Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Quarter Final Is Still on for Fitz

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Quarter Final Is Still on for Fitz

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith

JAMES Fitzpatrick insists his Newcastle Falcons side are still pushing for a European quarter-final place despite knowing they need a miracle to achieve it.

Saturday sees the bottom teams in the French and English top flights locking horns in the final round of the Amlin Challenge Cup group phase as Newcastle visit Lyon.

A Falcons victory would give them a mathematical chance of reaching the last eight of European rugby's second-tier tournament, but French big spenders Toulon remain the red-hot favourites to take the Pool B crown.

Jonny Wilkinson's team are currently two points ahead of the Falcons and, with only the group winners going through, they know that victory at Petrarca Padova on Saturday would be enough to secure safe passage.

The Italian champions were thumped 43-0 at Kingston Park on Sunday, and there was little in their performance to suggest they have what it takes against a Toulon side which racked up a four-try bonus point at home to Lyon the same day. Nonetheless Fitzpatrick insists he and his Newcastle side will hold their end of the bargain by going for broke at Lyon's newly-constructed Matmut Stadium.

The centre said: "We are just going over there to play some good rugby and win the game.

"All we can do is take what we did against Padova on Sunday and use that momentum out in France. We need to have the same mind-set, and regardless of qualifying a win would be great for our confidence.

"We know the odds are massively stacked against us in terms of the quarterfinals with needing Petrarca to beat Toulon, so we will just worry about what we can influence ourselves."

With Newcastle nine points adrift at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership and the same number of games left to go, Fitzpatrick (pictured far right) said: "The point of Saturday in Lyon from our end is to try and get things right for when we return to the league, and it is a great chance for us to do that. …

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