Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Are Gradually Adjusting to Premiership Standards

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Are Gradually Adjusting to Premiership Standards

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith

ALEX Tait admits Newcastle Falcons have noticed a jump in standards after returning to the Aviva Premiership, but insists the RFU Championship winners are gradually coming to terms with it.

Playing last season against mainly semi-professional opposition and winning their regular season by 24 points with just a single defeat, the Falcons began life back in the Premiership with a 21-0 home loss to Bath.

Making amends and showing improvements in Friday's 15-14 victory at northern rivals Sale, Tait said: "The Premiership is another level altogether. As we saw at Sale, teams go for the full 80 minutes.

"The Championship was very hard and there are some good teams there, so I mean no disrespect, but some sides we played tended to fall away after the 60-minute mark. You can't let your guard down for a single second in the Premiership though, especially with the intelligence of the players in knowing how to exploit any little slip."

Having been restricted to five penalties at the Salford City Stadium three days ago, the full-back said: "The defensive organisation of teams in the Premiership is a heck of a lot tighter, and it is so much harder to find the kind of spaces that we were seeing regularly last season.

"When those gaps present themselves they close a lot quicker, so it has been a big jump getting back to that standard after a year away from it."

Glad to have come through a nailbiter, which saw his side absorbing waves of late pressure, Tait added: "Our defence was superb near the end, going from our own 22 back to their 22, and it typified our whole attitude.

"One mistake and we would have conceded a penalty that would have lost us the game, but the discipline and defence during that final ten minutes was just outstanding.

"Our attitude was what got us through. …

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