Hogg backs Falcons to challenge Saracens

Thursday 22 December 2016

Ally Hogg says Newcastle Falcons’ underdog status will be no hindrance as they prepare for Saturday’s trip to Aviva Premiership champions Saracens.

The European Champions Cup winners were 23-14 victors when the two teams last met at Allianz Park in the league back in May, Newcastle having led at half-time in a strong away showing.

And with Saracens once again top of the domestic standings, Hogg said ahead of the 1.30pm Christmas Eve kick-off: “We think we can certainly challenge them.

“We know it’s going to be tough and we know we’re not going to run away with it, put it that way. But it’s a good challenge, and these are the kind of teams we want to be challenging and putting pressure on - asking questions of them.”

The Falcons have already visited Allianz Park once this season, when a second-half rally allowed the home team to fight back for a 29-18 Anglo-Welsh Cup triumph.

Hogg, who has made 155 competitive appearances during his six and a half seasons in Newcastle, said: “You’ve got to go down there with confidence, especially after two good Premiership wins against Northampton and Harlequins.

“It’s a tough place to go and there’s talk there may be storms coming in on Saturday, so we’ll see what the weather’s like. It might not be the most enthralling game but it’s about doing what needs to be done, and hopefully getting the right result.”

With successive games against the top three sides in the Premiership coming up, the trip to Saracens is followed by home dates against Wasps (December 30) and Bath (January 6). Not that Hogg is complaining.

He said: “It’s been a good start to the season and it’s just about maintaining that start, kicking on and getting the results we want.

“Competition for places is driving us forward, and if you look at the boys who are injured and are still to come back into the mix – Sean Robinson, Will Welch and Nili Latu to name just a few – that can only be good for the club.

“These next three games are big. It’s good for the club and good for us as players to see where we’re at, and how we’re competing on that stage. If we go in there and we can pick up a couple of wins we’ll know we’re going in the direction. It’s a big marker for the club and where we are.

“I think everyone who comes to watch us thoroughly enjoys the brand of rugby we’re trying to play this season. It’s exciting, we try to move the ball and challenge teams. You can see supporters and players buying into that.”

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