Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Expect a Battle to Stay Up; Bates Warns of a Tough Run-In

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Expect a Battle to Stay Up; Bates Warns of a Tough Run-In

Article excerpt

Byline: Nick Purewal

STEVE Bates has warned his Newcastle Falcons they are in for the long-haul relegation battle after their Saracens hammering. Backing his men to shake off Sunday's seven-try Watford debacle when they host Gloucester at Kingston Park tomorrow night, Falcons rugby director Bates said his side can still triumph in front of the home fans.

Admitting his side will be locked in their bid to avoid the drop for the remainder of their five Premiership games, former Borders coach Bates said the best route forward is for his men to wipe Sunday's shocker completely from their minds.

Refusing to be buoyed by the fact none of Newcastle's relegation rivals gained any ground in the race to beat the drop over the weekend, the Falcons boss said they must still use that to their advantage.

Locked in the middle of their toughest week of the season, the Falcons entertain Gloucester tomorrow before heading to The Stoop to take on Harlequins on Saturday. Wherever possible Bates will try to field his first-choice XV for the week's remaining fixtures, and to that end he was relieved that there were no serious injuries suffered at Saracens.

The worries come from a poor defensive showing though, where hooker Schalk Brits stole in for two early tries that all but killed the contest by themselves.

Missed tackles and skewed alignment dogged the Falcons all afternoon, and they hardly fared much better in attack.

Up until the weekend they had at least been at the races despite a string of poor results, but now the Falcons have been forced to address a number of sizeable problems.

With little time to address those issues on the training field before Gloucester pitch up at KP though, Bates admitted the crux of the preparation at the start of the week will revolve around rebuilding shattered confidence.

Bates admitted his men were shellshocked by Sunday's capitulation, and certainly it was the first time all season they have failed to make at least a decent fist of competition. …

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