Joel Hodgson believes Newcastle Falcons’ increased cohesion is putting them on the right path ahead of tonight’s 7.45pm kick-off against Wasps at Kingston Park Stadium.
At the half-way stage of the Aviva Premiership campaign the Falcons have already won as many league games as they did over the whole of last season, Hodgson crediting an adherence to the game plan as they look to continue their encouraging start.
The homegrown fly-half said: “We are very fortunate that, although I like to think we have got an attractive style of play with the way we throw the ball around, it is actually pretty basic. If you know your roles the rest should take care itself, and what we are seeing are boys really doing their homework off the pitch.
“Everyone knows exactly what we are looking to bring to the game, and the good thing for me is that I don’t have to worry about people not knowing their jobs. I think it’s evident for people watching our games, they can see the players are comfortable in what they have to do and it is all coming into shape now.
“Everyone has always done their homework but there is a real drive from within the players themselves, demanding more from each other in making sure everyone is 100% clear on their roles. You don’t hang your mate out to dry, and that’s really showing. Everyone knows what we are about, knows the game plan and buys into it. If you’ve got all 15 guys doing that, you’re in pretty good shape.”
Playing the top three teams in the Aviva Premiership back to back, Hodgson kicked two from two in the Christmas Eve clash with champions Saracens before a run which sees them hosting Wasps and then Bath on successive Fridays.
He said: “Playing the top three teams is obviously a big challenge.
“If we were a bit more clinical and accurate at Saracens then maybe the result would have been a little different, but we’re looking forward now. We have parked that and taken the positives from it, plus the work-ons for Wasps, and we have done our homework for the next game. If we are a bit more clinical and look to play in the right areas, then hopefully we will get the result.
“The effort and endeavour shown by the boys at Saracens was incredible. They grafted from minute one to minute 80, and you couldn’t fault them in that regard. We have come away thinking let’s take external factors like refereeing decisions out of the equation, and focus on what we can do. We felt we weren’t clinical enough when it counted, we were off that little 5%, and at Saracens that’s all it takes for them to win the game.
“There is a big focus on making sure that when we get into that red zone, that final 20 metres, to really light up, but to stay cool up top and execute. We certainly had a number of opportunities, and if we had taken them on the day it might have been a different scoreline.
“It is coming together. As I said, we do feel that in the final bit of red zone, that crucial 20 metres, we have not been clinical enough. If we can get that right all the boys will tell you we have the shape and the game plan to take on the best sides, and I think that showed down at Saracens. It’s just about making sure we take our chances when they come.”
Hopeful that 2017 can see the Falcons building on the gains they have made over the past year, Hodgson said: “This isn’t a one-night thing. It has been building for a number of years and things have been put in place which have led us to this point, but we’re not done yet.
“We want to continue to push into that top six and, as much as we feel we are in the right place to do that, there are still a few more little things we have to get right. We need to make sure we are consistent in our performance levels, and when we do that we will start moving up even further and achieving what we want to achieve.”
Tickets for tonight’s game are still available by calling 0871 226 6060, from the stadium in person or by clicking here. Those collecting tickets on the night are urged to allow extra time at what will be a busy game.