TOP BAR - Fixtures

Jon Welsh aims to reward Newcastle Falcons’ biggest crowd of the season

Prop Jon Welsh says repaying Newcastle Falcons’ fans for their increased level of support is a major part of his team’s motivation against Exeter Chiefs on Friday night.

The Aviva Premiership clash has been billed as the ‘Big Night Oot’ as Kingston Park Stadium prepares to welcome its biggest home gate of the campaign – crowds for their three league games to date having already risen 18.3% on last year.

Winning two of their three home Premiership games and only losing the other by a single point to Leicester Tigers, Welsh said: “The crowd definitely makes a difference.

“I have said from day one down here that the Falcons supporters are fantastic. Even when it’s only half full they create a heck of a noise, and Friday should be something else with an even bigger attendance.

“From the players’ point of view the focus is on us repaying those guys for coming down, backing the club and supporting the team. We do that by winning the game, simple as that, and it’s all for the fans because they are the guys who turn up even when times are tough. They deserve a victory for everything they’ve given the club, and it’s a huge effort from everyone here to make sure they get it.”

All supporters on the night are entitled to a free post-match curry in the West Stand concourse and the East Stand 1877 Bar, but it is on-field matters which are uppermost in Welsh’s thoughts as the Falcons aim to continue their best start in recent years.

The Scottish prop said: “This season’s league form has been both good and frustrating at the same time. Good in the sense that we have improved on last year, but we have lost a couple of close ones which do make you think ‘what if’ a little.

“Having said that, we have also shaded a couple of close ones in our own favour, but for all the progress we’ve made I think the overriding feeling is that we can still do better. It’s human nature to look at the games you could have won rather than the ones you did win, but we’re in a better place now and looking to build.”

Expecting a tough test against a Chiefs side which competed in last season’s Aviva Premiership final, he added: “Exeter have been a good Premiership side for a number of years now.

“They have built since their promotion, they have won the Cup and then reached the Premiership final, so you can’t argue with their record. They will bring a big pack, as they always do, and it’s about us going out there and applying our own shape on things.”

Tickets for Friday’s 8pm kick-off are available by calling 0871 226 6060, from the stadium in person or via www.newcastlefalcons.co.uk. Supporters are urged to book in advance to make sure they can get into their preferred area, with less than 500 seats left on sale.

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