Charlie Sharples insists Gloucester Rugby will not be taking Newcastle Falcons lightly this weekend – despite Dean Richards’ men suffering two heavy defeats in their three Aviva Premiership matches so far this term.
After a year away from the Premiership, Newcastle’s pre-season confidence took an early dent when Bath Rugby won 21-0 at Kingston Park in the first game of the 2013/14 season.
The Falcons recovered to grind out a narrow win at Sale Sharks, before Leicester Tigers swept them aside at Welford Road last weekend to leave Richards’ charges in no doubt as to the task facing them this season.
Gloucester themselves have failed to fire, with two defeats followed by a last-gasp 26-24 victory over Northampton Saints last weekend ensuring Sharples and co avoided their worst ever start to a Premiership season.
And while Gloucester – who agonisingly missed out on the play-offs last year as they finished fifth – will be the favourites on Sunday, Sharples is adamant the players will not be taking anything for granted, especially as they haven’t tasted victory at Kingston Park since 2007.
"It was nice to come into training on the back of a win after the first two disappointing games of the season. It gives us a bit of confidence to go to Newcastle with,” said the Gloucester winger.
"It is a tough place to go and we don't have a great record of going up there and getting results.
"We have got to approach this game very seriously if we want to get something out of it.
"The win against Northampton was massive. It has taken a bit of weight off our shoulders and relieved a bit of pressure.
"But this is a new game and I think Newcastle target the game against us every time this fixture comes around. For them I think it is one they always feel they can win. Over the years they have showed that. They have certainly had the better of us up there.
"We approach this game very seriously regardless of where they have come from last year. It is always a tough place to go and play.
"They are going to have reasons of their own to want to get some points out of this game. Hopefully we will go up there play the way Gloucester Rugby can play and we will put in a good performance."
Meanwhile, Newcastle hooker Matt Thompson revealed the players have been feeling down in the dumps this week after they were given a rude awakening at Leicester.
And while Thompson knows Gloucester will be another tough challenge, he insists the players firmly believe they can come out on top.
“The mood is not great – we lost and didn’t play particularly well. Dean and the other coaching staff weren’t particularly happy but we will bounce back,” said the 30-year-old.
“Gloucester pose a different challenge to us than Sale do but hopefully we will come out with a victory.
“Yes, they are beatable, but they have got some great individual players. If we win it doesn’t matter if we score tries or not.
“If you look at the squads I bet there wouldn’t be many players from a couple of years ago when we beat them – not from Newcastle anyway. History is one thing but the players don’t look at that. Hopefully we will bounce back and hopefully the weather will hold off – against Bath it was absolutely atrocious.”
Referee: Andrew Small (89th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Robin Goodliffe & Paul Dix. TMO: Trevor Fisher.