Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Can Use Europe to Sharpen Claws in Attack

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Can Use Europe to Sharpen Claws in Attack

Article excerpt

Byline: UNION TRY TIME Rugby talk with MARK SMITH

NEWCASTLE Falcons enter their European fortnight on a hiding to nothing, but they can still get something useful out of it as they search for their attacking formula.

With no tries in their last three Premiership games and only three in the league all season, it is not hard to see where the priority lies during back-to-back games against Calvisano.

The Italian outfit are at Kingston Park on Sunday and, for all that the Amlin Challenge Cup is small beer in prestige terms, it can still provide an avenue for a misfiring side to find some attacking rhythm.

Both director of rugby Dean Richards and lock-forward Fraser McKenzie were vocal in their belief that last weekend's drubbing by Harlequins was down as much to grey matter as it was to any more fundamental shortcomings.

They have the tools at their disposal and it is just about getting the players in the right state of mind to believe they can compete with the best, they contended.

It is not an argument entirely without merit, and there have been flashes in games to suggest the group is capable of stringing together phases of possession inside the opposition half.

Making it count on the scoreboard is another matter altogether, and for all the plaudits rightly earned by stoic defence and a big scrum, it is useless without the complement of a serious offensive threat.

To that end, the continued exile of Joel Hodgson seems to make little sense.

By far the most creative of the three flyhalves in the Newcastle armoury, the homegrown product has found himself frozen out in the Premiership and even the LV= Cup.

Farmed out to Rotherham for meaningful minutes, if he doesn't feature in the upcoming European games it is safe to assume his Newcastle career is effectively over.

It seems a waste given his ability to get a back-line going, but if the director of rugby doesn't fancy him he has to back his own judgement. …

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