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Preview: Newcastle Falcons v Leicester Tigers

Preview: Newcastle Falcons v Leicester Tigers

Newcastle may have hit rock bottom in the Aviva Premiership Rugby standings last weekend, but flanker Nili Latu insists they are in the perfect place to swipe Leicester Tigers’ legs from under them.

The Falcons missed a golden opportunity away at Wasps last weekend, where a determined defensive performance and a try from 33-year-old Tongan Latu put them within touching distance of a much-needed Aviva Premiership Rugby victory.

But Jimmy Gopperth’s penalty five minutes from time made the Tynesiders pay for squandering eight points off the tee, and the 9-8 defeat denied them only a second away league victory since October 2013.

With bottom-of-the-table rivals London Irish getting a win last weekend, the pressure is now on the Falcons to continue a fine run of home form that has seen them triumph in their last four matches in all competitions at Kingston Park.

Their task does not get any easier against high-flying Leicester, but Latu is adamant they will go into the clash with confidence.

“I think at the moment this is the perfect time for us to strike them,” he said. “They may be looking at Europe or further down the line this season, and we’ve been saying to ourselves we have nothing to lose.

“We have everything to gain from this match so we don’t really care what they do or who they bring up – we just want them to know when they come up it’s going to be a hard fight for sure.

“Leicester are one of the best teams in the league, and I think for us right now we need to focus on what we can do better as a team and as individuals too.

“We can beat any team that we come across, and at home especially we have been really strong of late. It’s always good to play at home in front of your own fans and family.

“I don’t think teams particularly coming up north to face us so from that respect it’s so far, so good for us.”

The Tigers themselves do not come into the game in their best form, with two narrow league victories followed by a 10-3 home loss to Sale Sharks last time out.

And while Leicester have won their last 11 fixtures with the Falcons in Aviva Premiership Rugby since Newcastle's 14-10 victory at Kingston Park in March 2009, Graham Kitchener admits they won’t be taking anything for granted.

He said: “Newcastle have had some great results recently, beating Bath and Harlequins and they came very close last time out against Wasps so we know they are a good team that are going to pose a real threat.

“But we have put last weekend behind us now and are looking forward to getting out on a Friday night.

“The new pitch there lends itself to a fast-paced game which might suit us but we will have to wait and see. We want a win to get back on track after the Sale game.”

(Kingston Park, 7.45pm)
Referee: Greg Garner (91st Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden & Kelvin Stewart. TMO: David Sainsbury.

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