Chris Harris believes the physical battle will be key for Newcastle Falcons as they aim to do a Gallagher Premiership home-and-away double over Bath on Saturday at the Rec.
The Falcons have already defeated the West Country twice at Kingston Park Stadium this season and were victorious on their last visit to the Roman City, Scotland centre Harris highlighting the importance of the collision area this time round.
“Bath are a good side, they’ve got a big pack and a strong back three and we’ve just got to bar up physically,” said the Cumbrian, who scored his first international try against Italy a fortnight ago.
“If we win our collisions on both sides of the ball then I think we’ll be alright, and everyone’s geared up for that challenge.”
Missing Scotland’s defeat to Ireland despite impressing from the bench against the Italians, Harris said: “Around this sort of time last year a similar thing happened, and I kind of let it get to me a bit on that occasion.
“It’s part of international rugby and professional sport in general, you’ve got to deal with these things and just move on. Obviously I was disappointed to not be involved against Ireland but they’ve made that decision, and all I can do is concentrate on playing well for the Falcons.
“It goes without saying my focus is on helping the team when I play for Newcastle, and if I can put in consistent performances at club level then maybe I’ll get another opportunity with Scotland. It’s just about taking your chances.”
Scoring a try from the bench last weekend as Newcastle Falcons allowed their early lead to slip in the Premiership Rugby Cup semi-final at Northampton, Harris said: “We had a really good 20 minutes at the start but if you look at the game as a whole it was a poor performance, and we know that.
“That back 60 wasn’t anywhere near good enough and it has been the main focus for us during the week, because that’s not what we’re about. We stepped off the gas at three tries up, and you’ve got to be winning from that position.
“It was lapses of concentration, Northampton started to get their tails up and it spiralled out of control from there. We’ve had a good look at the game and identified what we need to do better, and it’s all the little parts of rugby like getting the ball in the corner and actually having a functioning kick-chase.
“You need to suffocate teams at this level, and we didn’t do that. The annoying part of it is that we’ve shown we can do it in spells, but you’ve got to string it together.”
Having been part of the side which won at Bath last season the prospect of a repeat performance is one that Harris is relishing as the Cumbrian looks forward to silencing the home fans.
“It’s a scenic setting and their crowd get up for the games,” he said.
“It’s exciting to play in that environment but in the nicest possible way you just want to shut them up.
“We won there last season, albeit we stepped off the gas a little bit during that game, so we had to scrape a result in the end.”