Match Stats - Fix Info
Preview: Newcastle Falcons v Bath Rugby
Guy Mercer says the slate has been wiped clean heading into 2016 as Bath Rugby go on the hunt for back-to-back victories in Aviva Premiership Rugby for the first time this season against Newcastle Falcons.
It’s been a so-so start to the campaign for the 2014/15 Aviva Premiership Rugby finalists, though they have the chance to put their foot down at Newcastle.
Newcastle have registered just two points in the league and their only victories at Kingston Park have come in Europe against Enisei and Connacht.
Dean Richards’ men will find no solace in the history books either, as Bath have not lost in Newcastle since 2003.
And flanker Mercer – who captained Bath in last week’s tense victory over Worcester Warriors – says his side are on the brink of a return to form.
"It's just about making the next step now," Mercer said. "We talk about the 'next play' a lot, no matter what's gone before.
"It's the same with our season, really. We get a fresh chance every weekend.
"You prepare as hard and as well as you can in the week and then you need to step up on matchday and deliver.
"That's something we haven't been doing, but now we've made our first step in terms of getting back on track."
But there are signs that Newcastle are ready to attach the season afresh as well as only a stirring Leicester Tigers comeback tamed Falcons last time out.
Inspired by Tonga captain Nili Latu, Newcastle soared to a 10-0 lead before Leicester scored 22 unanswered points to win the game.
And Richards believes that, slowly but surely, Newcastle are catching up to the rest of the league thanks to a lightened injury load.
“The first four or five games were a little bit difficult because we had so many injuries,” said Falcons director of rugby Richards. “Now we haven’t, and we are starting to play with some sort of structure.
“I said a few weeks ago going into the European games, when the injury crisis was lessening slightly, that we would start playing some better rugby. We have been doing just that, and it has been noticeable over the past few weeks.”
Kingston Park, 3pm
Referee: Matthew Carley (36th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Wayne Falla & John Meredith.
TMO: Sean Davey.