Peterson relishing physical challenge against Chiefs

Thursday 17 February 2022

Greg Peterson says another huge forward effort on Sunday can help Newcastle Falcons to a home-and-away double over Exeter Chiefs.

The American international was part of the side which went to Sandy Park in November and beat the Chiefs away for the first time in the club’s history, chiselling out a 15-14 triumph.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s televised Gallagher Premiership re-match at Kingston Park Stadium, he said: “It was just a massive shift and a brutal game, which you’re always going to expect against the Chiefs.

“A lot of boys stepped up and played really well, and it was an awesome result. The main thing I remember is having to come back on the bus because there weren’t any flights, but a 400-mile coach trip is made a little bit easier when you’ve just won a big game!”

Anticipating a typically abrasive battle against their Devon visitors on a weekend where storms are expected to be a factor, Peterson added: “Exeter have been really good in the tight five for a number of years now, winning a couple of Premiership titles and a European Cup on the back of it.

“They’d probably admit themselves they’ve gone away from those levels just a little bit this season, which hopefully we can capitalise on, but they’re still a class side with a lot of threat. Being a tight-five forward myself I know it’ll be a big contest in that area, and if we can match them physically and mentally we’ll be right up there.

“In terms of all the chat about the storms, you always have an eye on the weather when you play at Kingston Park, and have it in your locker that you’ll have to tighten things up at times.

“It probably limits a bit of what you can do in the line-out and in terms of how close you stand to the 9, but it’s something we’re used to up here and we have good game leaders who take all that kind of thing into account.”

Keen to regain winning ways after losing their last two games since last month’s away win in Biarritz, the former Glasgow and Bordeaux man said: “The last couple of games have been frustrating because everything during the week has been spot-on in terms of how we’ve been prepared, but when it’s come to game day we’ve struggled to string it together.

“Teams are really good at this time of year, and this is a period which can make or break your season. We’ve struggled a little bit, just like we did last season, and it’s been our own continuity at times. The good thing is they’re all super-easy fixes which are all under our own control, and can change within a very short space of time. It’s the top six inches, how we apply it and taking that into our games.”

Buoyed by last weekend’s bye, he said: “It’s been great to use that down-time to firstly just get the body right, and then secondly to sharpen up on a few things.

“In the middle of a long season it’s useful from a physical perspective just to have that little respite, in terms of maintenance and prehab. It’s only February and we’re going until early June at the very least, so you’ve just got to do the work to ensure your body’s in the right state to take on that challenge.

“When you’re playing in the tight five and getting lots of minutes on the field, it’s just experience in terms of knowing how to manage yourself through that workload. When I was younger I would be balls-to-the-wall from day one, but now I know that’s just not sustainable, and you need to factor in some down time.

“I also know that I can’t just stop altogether, because it takes a little bit of time to get the engine ticking over again, and so it’s just a case of trying to strike that balance between re-energising and also being ready to go when we get back into the games.”

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