Sam Lockwood says Newcastle Falcons can take their cup form into the Gallagher Premiership when they travel to Harlequins on Friday night.
The Falcons are unbeaten in their five cup games following the opening block of the league programme, defeating Toulon and Montpellier in the Heineken Champions Cup before drawing with Exeter and then beating Harlequins and Bath in Premiership Rugby Cup action.
“Our results in the Premiership haven’t been great and there’s no skirting around that, but the quality of a lot of our play hasn’t actually been bad,” said the prop, who started in Newcastle’s 23-21 triumph at the Twickenham Stoop less than a fortnight ago.
“We’ve taken bonus points against some big teams, we’ve created plenty of opportunities and you’ve seen when we went into the Champions Cup games, the small tweaks we’ve made have seen us turning narrow defeats into narrow victories against good opposition.
“Clearly we’re disappointed with our league results and we all know we need to improve them to lift us away from where we are, but we expect more from ourselves and we have a massive belief that we’ll do it. It’s time for us to really show our quality in the league during this next block and to get some more points on the board.”
Last season saw Newcastle ending their 18-year wait for a Premiership victory away to Harlequins when Lockwood came on from the bench in February’s 28-10 triumph, the prop saying: “We know what Quins are about.
“They’ll throw the ball around but they also have more of a defensive mind-set these days under their new head coach, and they’ll try to hit us with some line-speed. Our back line will have to deal with that and our forwards will do our bit by carrying into the heart of that brick wall, and we’ll do what we need to do.
“We were only there last week so we’re well familiar with the stadium, and it’ll be great to play down there under the lights.”
Back involved in the team after a delayed start to the campaign, the man raised in Middlesbrough said: “Starting the season with back-to-back hand breaks wasn’t ideal but it’s given me a lot of time to get my fitness up, and I’m feeling pretty good in that sense.
“I’ve had a bit of game time in the Premiership Rugby Cup earlier this month which has been great, and I’m hoping to keep it going in the league. Big Jon Welsh is also back fit and looking to fire into the rest of the season, so it’s good from the squad perspective to have a bigger group of props all fighting for positions.”
Insisting selection will not be easy with so many players putting their hands up, Lockwood added: “The cup window has been good in the sense that we didn’t pick up any losses, but that draw against Exeter was a frustrating one because we felt we were in a winning position.
“The great thing has been that once again we’ve shown the quality of our academy, we’re bringing through top young players every year and they’ve really taken the opportunities they earned during the cup games. Boys are stepping up and putting real pressure on the lads who have been playing in the Premiership and the Champions Cup, and I wouldn’t one to be the coaches having to choose between them for Friday night.”
Aiming for another notable scalp on the road, Lockwood said: “The Stoop historically hasn’t been a great ground for us if you look back over time, but having said that we’ve won our last two games there, so we all have fresh memories of what it’s like to be on the right end of the result away to Quins.
“Maybe in years gone by there was a bit of trepidation about going to grounds like that, but we’ve genuinely got no fear now when it comes to winning away. Within the last year we’ve won at places like Leicester, Toulon, Gloucester and Northampton to name just a handful, and that psychological barrier isn’t there.
“That’s not to say that any of them are easy places to go to, because they’re definitely not, but we know how to win away, we’re comfortable travelling and playing at these venues and we know what’s needed.”