Newcastle Falcons captain Will Welch says his side are ready to make the small adjustments needed to regain winning ways in the Gallagher Premiership on Saturday when they play host to Harlequins.
The 3pm Kingston Park kick-off brings the first action of the calendar year, Welch having last weekend made his comeback after three months out with an ankle injury.
“It’s great to be back playing some rugby after a few months out, it came a little bit earlier than I expected but it’s nice to be fit again,” said the skipper.
“I was strapped to the nines during the game and it took a couple of days for the body to get over it, but the game itself was fine from a physical standpoint and we’re just looking to kick on now against Harlequins on Saturday.”
Determined to address a sequence of games which have seen the Falcons leading after 40 minutes only to end up on the wrong end of the result, Welch said: “Bristol last Sunday was pretty similar to quite a few games we’ve had this season where we’ve been up at half-time but haven’t closed it out, and we’re not blind to that fact.
“There were missed opportunities, bits of indiscipline at key times and unfortunately it was just a poor half against a good Bristol side. They’d been inaccurate in the first half but came out with a little more punch about them, and that combined with our own inaccuracy is what brought about the result.
“The good thing is we can control the things which went wrong last weekend, they’re not major fixes and we don’t believe we’re far away from being back into a winning streak.”
Currently sat 12th in the table but with just eight points separating the bottom six teams, Welch said: “The Gallagher Premiership is such a close league that games are being won and lost by one score, but we’re creating plenty of opportunities.
“Yes, we need to be more clinical in terms of finishing them, but we’re posing plenty of threat to teams and we’re not too far away.
“Although we’re at the bottom and nobody wants to be there, when you look at the table there’s not much between a lot of the clubs. It’s easy to look at a league table at the halfway stage of a season and start thinking about bigger things, but the way to approach it is just to concentrate fully on your next game.
“We’ve just got to make sure we follow through with what are a lot of winnable games during the back half of the Premiership, and that it becomes about delivering results rather than talking about it.
“As a playing group we are all pretty controlled when it comes to the emotional side of things, and we don’t get too excited one way or the other in terms of looking at the table.
“That applied as much last season when we were in the top four as it does now when we’re at the bottom, and we know that if we get things right and start taking more of our chances, the league will take care of itself.”
Having done a home-and-away double over Harlequins last season, the Falcons defeated the Londoners this term in cup action but sustained a 20-7 loss when the two met at the Twickenham Stoop in Premiership action.
“We were disappointed not to come away with the win at Harlequins, irrespective of the injuries we suffered on the night with Johnny Williams going down in the warm-up and Joel Hodgson breaking his leg early into the match,” said Welch.
“It was another one that got away but we’re back at home on Saturday, we’ve got the bit between our teeth and everyone is looking forward to it. Quins are a good side, they’ve had some decent results lately but there’s a lot of excitement around the place about what we can do this weekend.”
Assessing the threat from Saturday’s opponents who are coached by North East native Paul Gustard, the Falcons captain added: “Harlequins have changed quite a bit this season and they’re a lot more abrasive.
“Their pack is a lot more niggly and they’re trying to unsettle teams upfront, but they’ve also got that classic Harlequins mind-set of offloading and looking to play from anywhere. They’re good to watch, but it’s a case of making sure we’re switched-on and defensively on the money for the full 80 minutes.”
Tickets for Saturday’s 3pm kick-off are available by clicking here.