Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Focused for Exiles Tester

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Focused for Exiles Tester

Article excerpt

Byline: By Duncan Madsen

The Madejski Stadium may have been a happy hunting ground for Newcastle recently but the Falcons will be taking nothing for granted as they prepare for tomorrow's showdown against London Irish at Reading.

For although they have won twice in their last three trips to face the Exiles, there has never been much in it and, with the Irish one place (sixth) and one point above them in the Zurich Premiership table, Falcons boss Rob Andrew knows what a difficult task faces his team tomorrow.

"Our games against London Irish are always very tight, particularly down there," said Andrew.

"In addition they played very well to win at Northampton last week and will be on a high.

"Their game is based on their set-piece, and their lineout destroyed the Saints last week.

"In addition, they are playing Mike Catt at fly half and have moved Mark Mapletoft out to No 12, which gives them more width and makes them much less one-dimensional than they were before.

"However, we feel we have played pretty well this season and have won games we would have lost last year.

"We know our defence is a problem but we are working on it and the players now have real confidence, which is why we were able to bounce back so well in the Heineken Cup after a run of league defeats.

"We have Hall (Charlton) and Luke Gross back this week, as well as Bubbsy (Mark Mayerhofler) on the bench and that makes a big difference.

"With Steve (Michael Stephenson) getting over a dead leg we are starting with Taity (Mathew Tait) on the left wing. Despite still being only 18, he is in great form as he showed when coming on as a sub last weekend and, after all, he scored a try against Irish in his debut last season while still a schoolboy at Barnard Castle."

This will be Tait's fifth Zurich Premiership start of the season and the new Kingston Park favourite is loving every minute of life as a professional after his meteoric rise. …

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