Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Face Up to the Incredible Bulk

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Face Up to the Incredible Bulk

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK SMITH

FALCONS boss Alan Tait has urged his Newcastle side to win the battle of the bulk tomorrow as Exeter's giant forward pack storms into town.

The Chiefs visit Kingston Park in a crucial LV Cup clash, with Tait's side just one win away from a semi-final place going into the final group game of the Anglo-Welsh competition.

Last weekend saw Exeter's engine-room bruisers batter their way past Premiership champions Leicester Tigers, and the head coach insisted his side must strike early to fell the Devon outfit's tall timber.

The Scot said: "I don't know here they are getting all of these big forwards from, but they will take some stopping and we know it will be tough.

"They do bring an imposing challenge, even though it is quite a simple structure, but the key is you have to stop them early before they get into their fourth and fifth phases.

"They get their forwards running hard round the corner of the ruck, but they are big men and you have to stop them.

"There is nothing wrong with their system, but from our point of view we know we have to be strong in defence and make sure their runners do not break through.

"When we get our own hands on the ball we will try and move them about a bit because of their size, but that is dependant on the weather.

"If it is a bad day you cannot start chucking the ball around willy-nilly, so we will take that into consideration."

Victory for the Falcons would guarantee an LV Cup semi-final spot in mid-March, and Tait has gone all-in for the prize pot with a power-packed line-up.

Kiwi signing Andrew van der Heijden makes his first start for the club since joining from Auckland, partnering captain James Judson in the second-row as Tim Swinson moves to blindside flanker.

Jeremy Manning returns at fullback after two weeks out with a bulging disc, with Alex Tait moving up to the left wing in place of Gcobani Bobo. James Fitzpatrick adds his confrontational presence to the midfield, while the only other change to the side sees James Hall start at tight-head prop with Euan Murray away on Six Nations duty with Scotland. …

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