Leicester Tigers may have lost to Bath Rugby last week but No.8 Jordan Crane believes their spirited second-half fightback will stand them in good stead for the challenge of Newcastle Falcons.
In the 100th anniversary fixture between the two clubs, the Tigers found themselves down 21-3 at the break but returned from half-time and scored 17 points to secure a bonus point from the clash.
Though it was not enough for victory, they lost 27-20, all signs point to Richard Cockerill’s troops bouncing back when they entertain the Falcons at Welford Road – where they have lost just once in their last 17 matches in all competitions.
And Crane believes the Tigers must channel their turnaround at the Rec and take full advantage of playing at home against a Newcastle side that defeated Sale Sharks 15-14 in round 2.
“We have to carry on from where we left off in the second-half against Bath and we know if we create the same opportunities as we did I think most teams would struggle to live with us,” said Crane.
“At Welford Road it is difficult for teams to come and we want to make it as difficult as possible for them. Newcastle will be on a high after last week – I don’t think anyone picked them to beat Sale after their opening win against Gloucester.
“So they will be full of confidence. They are going to be a hard team with the coaches they have. They won’t give up easily and they we be up for a scrap and will look to take us on up front so we need to stand tall and make sure we impose our game and get off to a good start.”
Newcastle made it three wins out of three away from home in the Aviva Premiership with victory over Sale, adding to wins over Gloucester Rugby and London Wasps in the 2011-12 season.
Now rebooted under the watch of Dean Richards, the Falcons’ last success at Welford Road – a 25-19 victory in 1997 – ironically came in the No.8’s 314th and last ever game for Leicester.
Having coached the Tigers through a golden era after he hanging up his boots Richards is all too aware of the threat they pose, but the Newcastle director of rugby is buoyed by the hard-fought win against Sale.
“It does not get any easier, does it, with Leicester next up on Saturday,” said Richards. “A lot of the boys will not have experienced that atmosphere but it is one of those where you raise your game and enjoy yourself.
“It is a fantastic place to go and play rugby. You cannot sit back; you just go all out for the 80 minutes. Getting on the right side of the tight ones is what it is all about and taking points when you can.
“Had we come away from Sale with no points I would have been bitterly disappointed, but I am quite happy with four. I felt a bit sorry for Sale, who have had injury disruptions during the week, and missing Johnny Leota was a massive blow for them.”
Referee: David Rose (113th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Roger Baileff and Peter Huckle. TMO: Keith Lewis.