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Preview: Bath Rugby v Newcastle Falcons

Preview: Bath Rugby v Newcastle Falcons

After the high of winning at Northampton Saints last week – Bath Rugby head coach Tabai Matson is desperate to continue that winning sequence against Newcastle on Saturday.

Bath have won their last two Aviva Premiership Rugby matches at home to Leicester and away at Northampton and are fast erasing memories of last season’s league struggles.

It was a season of disappointment at the Rec last season as Bath struggled domestically and in Europe, but this weekend against Newcastle they have the chance to right many of those wrongs.

They have not won three Premiership Rugby fixtures in a row since the end of the 2014/15 campaign.

Bath have been defeated just once at the Recreation Ground since February – 30-10 to champions Saracens on April 1 – and Matson is determined to turn their home into a fortress this season.

“I’m pumped about it,” Matson said. “I’m good friends with (former Bath player) Joe Maddock, who coaches out in Christchurch, and he says the Rec is by far the best ground.

“It’s obviously one of the best places to play in Europe, so I’m pretty excited about that and to be in front of the home fans.

“I went to the supporters’ club dinner on one of my first nights here and it seemed phenomenal.

“The first home game is always really special and for us we just need to back up performances.

“I think that’s what the fans want to see. They want us to do justice to our first home game and play as well as we did last week.

“I think they’ll come here with real confidence. They’re going to be a physical side, but you might find me saying that every week in the Premiership.

“I’m completely happy with the result, but for us there are opportunities.

“The way Bath has played in the past has been exciting, but for us it’s about our efficiency in making sure that when we break, we transfer those line breaks into points or scoring positions.

“Fingers crossed, the nice Somerset weather will continue and we can see a bit more ball and play at the weekend. Home is a special place. Your friends, family and supporters are there.

“Hopefully, the outcomes will come our way if we believe in it.”

Newcastle Falcons beat Sale 19-17 at Kingston Park on Friday but have not begun an Aviva Premiership Rugby season with victories in the opening two rounds since 2004/05.

The Falcons have not won away from home since a visit to London Irish in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in February 2015.

Bath’s only loss to Newcastle since October 2009 was 14-19 at Kingston Park on 2 January, whilst Newcastle have not been victorious at the Recreation Ground since a trip in October 2009.

Newcastle boss Dean Richards hailed his side’s win last week against Sale Sharks but has called for improvements this week ahead of the visit to Bath.

“I was more annoyed with the fact we’d given away two avoidable penalties than the fact he could have kicked it and won the game for them against Sale,” said Richards.

“We nearly threw it away but we shouldn’t have been in that position. We made a lot of line breaks and looked dangerous and we gave as good as we got in the forwards.

“Maybe we’re going to be a little luckier this season than last. It’s the little things that make the difference. The penalty count may have been in our favour but those last two penalties could have been very costly.”

Recreation Ground, 3pm

Referee: Ian Tempest (19th Premiership game).

Assistant Referees: Gareth Copsey & Sim McConnell.

TMO: David Rose.

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