Gopperth backs Newcastle to bounce back

Falcons fly half Jimmy Gopperth has backed his Newcastle side to bounce back from Sunday’s loss at Saracens, as Gloucester make the Guinness Premiership trip to Kingston Park on Wednesday night (kick-off 8pm).

The Cherry and Whites visit the north-east aiming to avoid a repeat of the defeat they suffered at the same venue last season, with Gopperth and his troops eager to atone for last weekend’s heavy defeat at Vicarage Road.

“Looking round the changing room after the game at Saracens on Sunday, the boys were hurting badly,” said the Kiwi, who remains the second-top scorer in the Guinness Premiership with 152 points in his 16 games.

“Even despite the horrible result I see it as a positive that it still means so much to the players, because if they weren’t bothered and were just going about their business normally after the game then something would be badly wrong.

“My wife saw the score on the news and said she was dreading me coming home because I’d be in such a foul mood after a 58-15 scoreline. It definitely hurts to suffer a result like that, but the good thing has been that the boys seem to have bounced back, and there is that real winning buzz about the place again.”

With the Falcons placed ninth in the table and in the thick of a relegation dogfight, Gopperth said: “The results we’ve had, when we look back, we should have had at least four more wins. That would have put us right up there in the table, but it’s hindsight and you’ve just got to move on.

“There’s a fight going on between basically four teams to avoid relegation, and we know that we’re one of that four. I’ve experienced leagues with relegation before when I played in the Air New Zealand Cup, and at that time it was a case of the bottom team in the main competition playing off against the top team in the secondary league to decide if anyone came up or down.

“What they found when they got rid of that concept was that the teams at the bottom actually became more competitive, because the fear factor was removed a little bit and they really went for it rather than just doing enough to try and stay up.

“I can see both sides of it though, because I think the whole relegation thing does keep teams and players honest. It means you are accountable every single week so there are no dead rubbers, it’s exciting for the fans and that pressure is always there. “

“I guess it’s a test of how you deal with that, but it’s certainly not something we’re even contemplating because we believe we have the quality to stay up and to build for next season.

“As a team we haven’t talked about relegation too much, because we’re just keeping a really positive mindset and going out to win each game between now and the end of the season.

“We don’t want to get into the mentality of thinking ‘God if we lose this one we’re right in it’, because all that does is create anxiety and doubt in people’s minds, which can affect your ability to perform. Our approach is to believe in the quality of players and coaches that we have, to stick together and attack each game as a new opportunity. We know we’re a better team than where we are right now, and we believe we have it in us to push on in these next five games.

“We’re still a relatively young team in terms of the amount of games we have played together, and we’re still on the learning curve, but if we can ride out the storm this season then I honestly believe we have exciting things happening in the future of this club.

“We have good things and good systems in place that can really take us forward, but we all know there’s a fight on our hands between now and then, and we’re all sticking together to keep this club in the Guinness Premiership.”

Having been one of the Falcons’ main men following his summer move from Super 14 side the Blues, Gopperth said: “I have to admit it’s taken me a bit of time to get used to the way the game

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