Stuart relishing Rec return

Friday 26 January 2018

Sam Stuart believes Newcastle Falcons have what it takes to win at The Rec for the second time this season as they take on Bath in Saturday’s Anglo-Welsh Cup encounter.

The scrum-half came on from the bench during Saturday’s 33-32 Aviva Premiership triumph back in September, and has shown up well following his summer move from Richmond.

“On the one hand our victory there in the league could be classed as irrelevant, but I think it does give a degree of confidence to the boys in knowing that we’ve already gone down there and got a result this season,” said the 26-year-old.

“It’s a totally new game this time and nobody is attaching a huge amount of significance to the Premiership meeting, but the way I look at it is that it can’t hurt to know we can win at The Rec. It’s a positive memory, and if we can draw on that in any small way then it’s useful to have.”

The Falcons are currently top of their Anglo-Welsh Cup group after bonus point wins over Wasps and Cardiff Blues, and are going well in all competitions having won their last eight games.

“The depth in our squad has been one of the main features for us this season, and I’m glad to have been able to play a part in that,” said Stuart.

“I’ve probably had more game time than I thought I would, to be honest, which was initially down to Micky Young having an injury at the start of the season. I got thrown into the deep end to an extent but that was good, and I’m happy with how it’s going. The fact that we’re going well in the league and are unbeaten in both cups is fantastic, and it’s a good place to be.”

Newcastle head down to the Roman City following last weekend’s 33-19 triumph over Russian champions Enisei-STM in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, Stuart crediting their opponents as Newcastle earned a top-two seeding for the European Challenge Cup knock-out rounds.

“Enisei were a much better side over in Georgia than they showed at Kingston Park the week before, and it was a tough game for us,” he said.

“Even considering that, the travel and all the rest of it, we still went over there, got the five points and secured a home quarter-final, so it’s a very business-like mind-set that we’re showing in these games.

“I think Bath on Saturday will try and emulate how their Premiership side plays, they’ve got good players all over the park and we know it will be a big challenge. That said, we go into every game thinking and believing we’re going to win, and this one is no different.”

Newcastle have also rotated their coaching resources for Saturday’s televised encounter as part of their ongoing development plans, Stuart praising the contribution of James Ponton, Mark Laycock and Scott MacLeod in the build-up.

“Jimmy, Marko and Scotty have been taking the lead this week and, although the schedule itself is not massively different, it’s nice midway through a season just to have a couple of fresh voices,” he said.

“That’s obviously no criticism of any of the other coaches who are doing a great job, but it’s good for the development of our coaches and it acts against any of the monotony which can sometimes creep in over the course of a long season.”

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