Alex Tait believes Newcastle Falcons are getting better with every game as they prepare for Saturday’s Championship Cup trip to Hartpury University RFC (kick-off 2.30pm).
The double centurion was a second-half replacement in Sunday’s 57-0 home win over Doncaster, the Falcons having opened their campaign a week earlier with a 21-8 triumph at Jersey.
“Our first game over in Jersey proved to be quite a difficult one for us,” said Tait, the academy product who is in his testimonial season with the club.
“We hadn’t played a game in more than four months, everyone was chomping at the bit and I think we probably just got a bit over-excited in some of the things we were trying to do. We ironed out most of those problems against Doncaster to some degree, although we still feel like there’s plenty to work on.
“We’ve obviously been working on shapes and combinations in training but it’s only in that proper match scenario where you really hone it down, not to mention your game fitness. That’s starting to come, and the idea is to have the team properly purring by the team we get into the league games.
“There were glimpses of it coming together against Doncaster in terms of keeping the ball moving and getting it into the hands of our dangerous attacking players, and we scored tries when we managed to do that.”
Certainly not writing off the challenge of Hartpury despite the Gloucestershire-based side losing both of their games so far in the competition, Tait said: “They compete pretty hard at the breakdown, they have guys who will spot out of the line and try to make the big hit and we’ve done our analysis on them.
“I’ve played against Akapusi Qera a few times and people know what he is all about from his time at Gloucester, and I’m sure they’ll be right up for it. We have to meet that physical challenge, look after ourselves and allow our attacking play to cause them problems.
“Complacency is always a possibility when an unbeaten team comes up against a side which hasn’t won either of its games, so we’ve certainly been looking at that aspect and stressing the need to keep our focus.
“A lot of professional sport at the top level is played in the head, and we’ve just got to make sure we’re mentally switched on every single time we take the field. We’ll get stung if we start to let our preparation or our standards drop, and our aim is to win every game we play to secure our Premiership status back.
“That means having a Premiership standard throughout the season, not just in physicality but also in terms of having a ruthless mind-set. It will be difficult at times because there are good teams in this league, and some tough places to go to. For the boys who are used to playing in the Premiership it will be a different kind of challenge, and we’ve got to be professional in how we deal with it.”
Setting a high bar for the campaign, he added: “There’s no bones about it, we want to go straight back up and win every game along the way, so we’ve got to come out firing and assert our dominance across this league right from the start.
“That’s not meant in any arrogant kind of way, and the only way we’ll be able to make it happen is if we take care of our processes every day in training and turn up to every game with a really clinical approach.
“We’ll be physical, look to move the ball quickly, we’ve got loads of pace in the side and we can’t allow teams to recover. Sides will try and drag us into an arm wrestle all season and we’ll need to be wise to that.”
Newcastle Falcons’ next home game is the Greene King IPA Championship visit of Hartpury University RFC on Friday October 18. Tickets for the 8pm kick-off are available by clicking here.