Exeter Chiefs narrowly missed out on Aviva Premiership Rugby’s top four last year and England centre Henry Slade admits picking up points in tough away clashes could prove the difference this time around.
The Chiefs lost to Bath Rugby at the Rec 19-17 in Round One but their form since the tail-end of last season is good, with just one defeat in their last four league games.
But Exeter’s away form needs addressing – they have only managed to record two wins on the road in the competition since last November, coming against Harlequins and Saracens.
And Slade, who was part of the Chiefs team that lost to Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park a year ago, says his team are looking to prove a point this weekend.
He said: “Newcastle are a good side at home and we were disappointed with last year and how we performed up there, we did not perform as we wanted to.
“Credit to Newcastle though as they came back and had a strong period in that second half where they scored two or three tries and took the game slightly away from us.
“Hopefully we can go up there and back up wins with wins and show how far we have come as a club, we need to be backing up a performance with another performance and going on from there.
“Unfortunately we did slip up against the teams outside the top four last year and that was the disappointing thing as it was so close at the end of the season.
“There were a few games that we let slip which we probably could have won but Newcastle are a tough team.”
Newcastle have not recorded a win yet in this campaign and that 29-24 victory in October 2014 was their only triumph over the Chiefs in their last eight encounters.
And Falcons full-back Simon Hammersley expects Exeter to pose a threat from many different areas.
“They showed plenty in a narrow defeat at Bath and then put a lot of points on London Irish last weekend, they always come to play and they have big forwards with the likes of Dave Ewers and Thomas Waldrom,” Hammersley told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.
“They get them on the front foot through their ball-carrying game and then in the backs people like Jack Nowell, Henry Slade and Gareth Steenson can hurt you.
“Steenson has been playing really well for them and they can throw a bit of everything at you. They are accurate and clinical, and that makes them difficult to play against.
“Having said that, we had a good home win against them last season.”
Newcastle Falcons v Exeter Chiefs (Kingston Park, 1pm)
Referee: Ian Tempest (8th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Roger Baileff & Steve Lee. TMO: Sean Davey.
Live on BT Sport