Newcastle Falcons may be bottom of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table at present but as Harlequins get ready to face them at Kingston Park on Sunday, Quins prop Mark Lambert believes their standing is deceptive.
Falcons have only won one league game this term but it was against last year’s beaten finalists Bath Rugby in Round 8.
They have also won their last three matches in all competitions at Kingston Park since Saracens were the visitors in Aviva Premiership Rugby in early December.
And all that combines to leave Lambert wary as Harlequins head north this weekend.
“We’re under no illusions, it’s never easy playing Newcastle – I’ve played them enough times to know they’re incredibley physical,” said Lambert.
“It’ll be a bit different to what we are used to because of the synthetic surface, and hopefully that’ll be for the better. But the Falcons are always going to be abrasive and confrontational.
“The league may say they are bottom but only three weeks ago they beat Bath, who reached the Premiership Final last year. This year has proved especially that there are no easy games in the league.”
Harlequins’ impressive seven-match unbeaten run ended in Montpellier in Friday evening but Conor O’Shea’s men have now lost just one of their last seven Aviva Premiership Rugby clashes.
That has them third in the table but Falcons were 37-21 victors last time Quins came to Kingston Park.
Newcastle are gunning for back-to-back Aviva Premiership Rugby victories over the Londoners for the first time since 2000 but centre Chris Harris is unconvinced the last game between the sides will have any bearing this time around.
“That game is not directly relevant to how we perform in this next one because the personnel is different,” explained Harris.
“It is not even the same season, but from a psychological standpoint it reminds us that we know we can beat them. Doing it again is the key.”
“They have guys missing but there is quality coming in, so we will just focus on our own preparation and really go at them.
“They have a big front five who will try to batter up the middle to get some go-forward, then they have talent in the backs which they will want to unleash.
“That is what they are going to bring, but if we nullify their set-piece and prevent them from getting forward momentum we are in with a good chance.”
Kingston Park, 3pm
Referee: Luke Pearce (45th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Darren Gamage & Paul Burton. TMO: Trevor Fisher.