Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Falcons' Progress Not the Main Concern for Pilgrim

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Falcons' Progress Not the Main Concern for Pilgrim

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith Sports writer

NEWCASTLE Falcons scrumhalf Chris Pilgrim is determined their European campaign will not end with a whimper tonight, even if quarter-final progression is beyond them.

The ongoing impasse over the future of the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup means tonight's visit of Bucharest Wolves could be the last European game at Kingston Park for some time. Ever, even.

A low-key home date against a composite side pooled from the best players in Romanian club rugby might not rank alongside some of the highlights of the Falcons' European past, but for Pilgrim and his cohorts it can still prove useful.

"We might be up against it in terms of us going through, but that doesn't matter against Bucharest because we just want to win the game," said the 28-year-old, one of eight changes to the side beaten 9-7 last Thursday by Brive.

That result leaves the French club in pole position to take the one-and-only Challenge Cup quarter-final spot from Pool C, and even if Newcastle record a bonus-point victory tonight Brive only need two points at home to win-less Italian parttimers Calvisano to progress. Pilgrim said: "We can't control what happens in Brive, so we just want to take the points at Kingston Park and will see what happens from there.

"Either way it is a home game in front of our own fans, and, after the last few games, we want to get a good win for the guys who come to support us."

Only 2,650 were in attendance for last week's dismal defeat - virtual dead-rubber status and low-profile opposoiton more than likely to see an even smaller figure this evening in a competition which has never seriously captured the imagination of the North East public. "It won't affect the players, and from a fans' point of view all I would say is we have some great young guys playing," said the former Nottingham man. "Hopefully people can come and give their backing to the guys who are going to be the future of the club.

"People like George McGuigan have been going really well at hooker, and he is in the starting side against Bucharest. …

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