Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Face a Big Challenge; We Need a Victory to Maintain Cup Hope,says Prop

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Face a Big Challenge; We Need a Victory to Maintain Cup Hope,says Prop

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith

FALCONS prop Kieran Brookes insists this afternoon's tie at Exeter is vital if his side are to maintain any hopes of European progress.

Newcastle lie third in Pool C of the Amlin Challenge Cup behind early French pace-setters Montpellier, and one point below today's opponents from Devon.

Montpellier's 39-14 demolition of whipping boys Bourgoin on Thursday night hammered home their dominance in the race for a quarter-final berth, with only the five group winners progressing through to the last eight of the competition.

The remaining three spots are filled by teams dropping down from the Heineken Cup but, with four games still to play, Brookes said: "We can still go through.

"Losing at Montpellier two months ago has put us on the back foot a little bit because they seem to be running away with the group, but we're still less than halfway through the pool phase and a couple of wins against Exeter will have us right back in it.

"Montpellier have still got to come to Kingston Park - they won't be looking forward to that, and so the onus is on ourselves to keep in with a sniff of them by winning the next two games."

The 20-year-old is one of only five Falcons players to keep their places for this afternoon's game, with head coach Alan Tait having rung the changes from the team which fell last time out against Leicester. Captain James Hudson, Micky Young, Jeremy Manning and Micky Ward are the other four to retain their spots in the side, as Tait takes the opportunity to rest some of his star names with one eye on the Boxing Day battle against Leeds Carnegie.

"There's a few of the young lads involved this time, myself included, and we all know it's a great opportunity for us to show the coaches what we can do going into the return of the Premiership games after Christmas," said Brookes, who continues at hooker in the injuryenforced absence of Rob Vickers and Joe Graham. "In terms of my own involvement at hooker it's more of a temporary covering option for the moment, but I'm enjoying my time playing there while the lads are out injured. …

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