Falcons peaking at right time, says Van der Walt

Thursday 12 March 2020

Philip van der Walt says in-form Newcastle Falcons are carrying serious momentum into Friday night’s home game against Bedford Blues.

The 8pm Kingston Park kick-off sees the table-topping Falcons going for their 22nd victory in succession as they look to build on their 13-point lead at the Championship summit.

Summer signing Van der Walt was part of the side which defeated Jersey Reds 38-3 away from home in their last outing, and with eight league games remaining the back-rower says his side are showing no signs of slowing down.

“We’ve had a couple of good wins in succession and we’re excited about our rugby,” said the 30-year-old, who joined Newcastle from South African Super Rugby side, the Sharks.

“The conditions look like they’re going to be a bit better on Friday compared to our last few matches, which feeds into our game, and we just want to show people what we’re capable of by applying continuous pressure.

“The boys have worked incredibly hard during the season, and we’re gathering some real momentum just at the time when the end is beginning to come into view. We’re not there yet and there’s plenty of work to do, but we’re positive about how we’re building.”

That positivity was evident in their bonus-point victory at Jersey, where they led 24-3 at half-time despite playing into the face of a gale-force wind with horizontal sleet.

“It wasn’t ideal, but to be honest I think it suited some of our forwards,” joked Van der Walt.

“It almost became like a fun day out when you were kids, sliding around in the mud. It made the game slower and tighter, the forwards had to work a bit harder but in the end it was a lot of fun.

“The worst part for me was actually half-time, because it was absolutely freezing when you were sat still in that changing room. I was very happy for the game to start again so I could generate some body heat, and it was a good outcome in the end.

“To make so few handling errors in such bad weather just shows how high the levels of concentration were from the boys, and it gives us confidence going forward now.

“If we want to progress by getting into the Premiership and making a go of it up there we’ve got to be consistent, and that really is the next step for us.”

Well aware that Bedford will offer stiff resistance on Friday, Van der Walt referenced their November meeting at Goldington Road when a John Hardie try helped them scrape an 11-6 victory

“Bedford will fancy their chances in the sense that the last time they played us it was pretty close, and even though it’s due to be a dry ball this time they’re actually pretty good in terms of their running game,” said the forward.

“They’ll back themselves to make it an exciting game, and the emphasis is on us to be dominant upfront. If we can nullify them in the forward areas and get stuck into them we can create opportunities for our quicker backs, and take those chances when they come.

“If we start big and really try to kill their spirit then it could be a long night for them as we build a score, but they’re a good side and we know it won’t be simple.”

Tickets are available for Friday’s 8pm kick-off by clicking here, calling 0871 226 6060 or visiting the Kingston Park box office in person. Book before game day to save £3 per ticket.

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