Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Nobody Pushes Falcons around Any More

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Nobody Pushes Falcons around Any More

Article excerpt

Byline: By Luke Edwards

Rob Andrew did not become one of the world's greatest fly-halves and one of English rugby's most highly-rated coaches by failing to pay attention to detail.

So while Newcastle's players and supporters enjoyed the sweet taste of derby success following a 26-11 European Challenge Cup victory on the Scottish border back in October, the Falcons director of rugby was more concerned with the poor performance of his pack against supposedly inferior opposition.

A 15-point winning margin may suggest an easy evening's work for the Guinness Premiership outfit, but the forwards' night, according to Andrew, had been far from comfortable against their Celtic League opponents.

Newcastle's pack problems were one of the main reasons for their stuttering early season form and it is no coincidence that the recent upsurge in results and performances ( with the exception of the defeat at London Wasps last weekend ( has been down to a marked improvement in the scrum, line-outs and maul. Yet, while no observer could doubt the forwards' progress in recent weeks, it is an improvement Andrew and his players are keen to hammer home the point against their local rivals at Kingston Park tomorrow.

"I got 20 minutes at loose head when we played them up in Galashiels a couple of months ago, and they're a very hard working side," said Dave Wilson, who will be given only his second start of the season tomorrow.

"They're solid up front and we have to be careful of them. They probably shaded the forward battle last time and we're not happy about that. But we've improved a lot since we played them last, and it's all about making sure we keep that improvement going.

"We've been winning games recently and it makes a huge difference. You can tell when you come in for training every day that people just have a lot more confidence about everything they do during the week.

"We now feel as if we can take good sides on in the forwards and really dominate, whereas before it might have been `we'll have a go and see where we get'. We now go in to matches really believing in ourselves.

"It's a good marker for us on Sunday because it's an ideal opportunity to show how much we have improved since October. …

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