Full-back Simon Hammersley is ready to spring forward into the next challenge as Newcastle Falcons host French club Brive in Friday’s European Challenge Cup quarter-final at Kingston Park Stadium.
The winner of the 8pm kick-off will meet either Gloucester or Connacht in the semi-finals, with Hammersley confident the Falcons can kick on from Saturday’s memorable festivities at St James’ Park.
That was when a club record crowd of 30,174 roared them on to a 25-22 victory over Northampton Saints, a result which leaves the Falcons fighting on multiple fronts at fourth in the Aviva Premiership.
Hammersley said: “Hopefully we can now kick on with the four Premiership games still to go and the European stuff still to go, maybe we can use this as a bit of a springboard to keep the run going and hopefully get to the play-offs, get to the semis in Europe and see how we do.”
Newcastle topped their European Challenge Cup group after winning all six games against Bordeaux-Begles, Dragons and Enisei-STM, finding themselves up against a Brive team who climbed off the bottom of the French Top 14 last weekend with a home victory over Agen.
“I think we obviously look back at games and look at areas to improve, and we’ll look at Brive and where they’re going to be strong, which is going to be different to Northampton,” said Hammersley.
“I think we can use this to help our momentum. Exeter in the Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final was knock-out rugby and we didn’t put in our best performance, so we know going into a cup match that it’s a lot different to a league match.
“There is added pressure but I think we can use this momentum, and at Kingston Park we’ve been pretty strong, so it’s good to go back.”
Looking back on Saturday’s memorable festivities at St James’ Park the Hull native had nothing but fond memories, saying: “When you first run out and you’ve got the flames going up and a huge crowd, and it feels pretty special.
“I thought we put in a fairly decent performance, at times we took our foot off the gas but to get out at St James’, which is a historic stadium, was just fantastic.
“A few years ago we were looking behind us in the relegation battle, and now you can’t believe we’re in fourth, putting pressure on third for their place, so it’s just a great place to be at the moment.
“The club has got great momentum and you can tell from everyone, the community staff, the corporate staff, everyone who organised the St James’ Park game, and it shows that everyone is pulling together. The playing side is doing really well, but then off-field staff are doing really well too.”
Tickets for Friday’s European Challenge Cup quarter-final v Brive are available by clicking here. Season ticket members are reminded that this game is not included in their package, but season parking passes are valid.