Defence coach John Wells says Newcastle Falcons’ goal is to keep their winning run going, with Saturday’s Championship Cup home quarter-final against London Scottish presenting the opportunity for a 20th successive victory.
Currently sitting 12 points clear at the top of the Championship and progressing as top seeds from the cup’s group phase, Wells’ men fly into Saturday’s game on the back of last weekend’s 40-7 thumping of promotion rivals Cornish Pirates.
Not that Wells is taking anything for granted, the former Leicester and England coach saying: “Keeping on winning games is the main thing, for me.
“To win the cup we’ve got to keep on winning, because we’re into the knockout rounds now. One thing looks after the other in that sense, and with it being straight elimination anything can happen.
“We know with the squad we have that we should be the better team if it all comes together, but actually being the better team on the day is never a given.”
Newcastle laboured to a 17-13 when they last met London Scottish in round two of the league season, Wells saying: “The weather – that’s my main recollection of the game down there in October!
“It was an absolutely horrible afternoon, and maybe in the good old days some of us like myself might have enjoyed playing in those conditions. The reality was, though, that the weather killed the game - it made it a mess and we had to dig in.
“We’d actually started really well by scoring two quick tries, we opened them up and then the weather set in. We didn’t handle it very well, as I recall, and we let them into the game near the end with a cheap defensive try from our perspective.
“That made it a stressful finish when it didn’t need to be, and this is probably the worst season I can recall in terms of the weather we’ve had on match days. It’s been consistently bad, and we have to understand how to use the elements like we did against Cornish Pirates last weekend.”
Running in six tries against their promotion rivals in front of the Sky Sports cameras, the defence coach added: “The thing that pleased me most was how clinical we were able to be when we had chances to score, and we took most of our opportunities.
“We made mistakes but we held on to enough ball to create some really good scores, and once we put phase after phase together and got some go-forward from it, we looked like a good side.
“The frustration is we know we’ve got that in us, but we’ve not been showing it week after week. We’ve not had the consistency to do it every single match, but we managed to take the best bits of our game and put them all together for a concentrated period.”
Taking nothing for granted against a London Scottish side led by former Falcons defence coach Graham Steadman, Wells said: “They’re are a dangerous proposition for us because they’ve got absolutely nothing to lose.
“They’re going to stay up whatever happens at the bottom end of the table, and they can just throw everything at these cup games.
“I find them to be a scrappy team, and I actually mean that in a positive way.
“They just hang in there, and when you look at their results they’ve beaten Jersey away, Cornish Pirates at home, they went toe-to-toe with Ealing, they lost by six away to Coventry and they weren’t far off at home against ourselves.
“They’re a side who don’t go away easily, and when you look at their league position it actually belies some of the results and performances they’ve put in over the season.
“They’ve just lacked a little bit from week to week to enable them to take advantage of all the good stuff they’re doing, to be able to finish off sides on a consistent basis. They lost in the last minute against Doncaster, and things like that have hurt them.
“They’ve got some very understated players in their side who, if on their day they are given an opportunity, will cause us a lot of problems.”
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Newcastle Falcons team to face London Scottish (3pm, Kingston Park Stadium)
15 Alex Tait
14 Adam Radwan
13 Ben Stevenson
12 Gareth Owen
11 Sinoti Sinoti
10 Toby Flood (captain)
9 Sam Stuart
1 Trevor Davison
2 Jamie Blamire
3 Rodney Ah You
4 Toby Salmon
5 Sebastian de Chaves
6 Callum Chick
7 Gary Graham
8 Simon Uzokwe
16 Charlie Maddison
17 Adam Brocklebank
18 Mark Tampin
19 Greg Peterson
20 Philip van der Walt
21 Joel Hodgson
22 Johnny Williams
23 Tom Arscott
Referee: Andrew Jackson