• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Chris Harris calls for sensible rugby as Newcastle Falcons travel to London Irish

ByDave Stopher

Dec 28, 2017

Chris Harris says sensible rugby and a ruthless mental approach can steer Newcastle Falcons to a fifth successive victory on Saturday, when they travel to London Irish.

The Aviva Premiership clash sees the Falcons going for a clean sweep throughout December having already beaten Northampton, Bordeaux-Begles, Dragons and Harlequins, although the Scotland centre accepts it will not be easy against a committed Exiles outfit.

Going into the 3pm kick-off against the Aviva Premiership’s bottom-placed side, Harris said: “We’ve had dark times of our own so we know what it’s like, and we know how London Irish are feeling.

“When you’re down there you throw absolutely everything at the game because you’re fighting for your life, and it doesn’t always go your way. Because we’ve experienced it ourselves we know the kind of desperation they will bring to the game, it will be a massive team effort on their part and we’ve got to ensure we’re mentally prepared for the challenge they’re going to pose.”

With Newcastle winning all but two of their away games this season in all competitions, the Cumbrian added: “We’re a much better team now than when we were scrapping down at the bottom of the Premiership, and it’s about playing smart rugby on Saturday.

“We can’t over-play in the wrong areas of the field, we have to get ourselves down into their half and our forwards have to repeat the great effort they’ve been showing in recent weeks.

“We can’t be stupid and try to play too much inside our own half, it’s about getting it down there, dominating the territory and then striking when we’re in position to do so. Sticking to those basics will be key, and if we’re accurate with regards to that game plan we’ve got a good chance of coming away with it.

“Irish aren’t a bad side and they’ve got a sharp back three who can pull tries out of nothing, and some big carriers in the forwards. No Premiership match is easy and they’ll take the game to us, but we just need to negate that threat by chopping down their big boys and not giving their back three any oxygen in attack.”

Part of the side which claimed an 11-10 home win over Harlequins in their pre-Christmas fixture, Harris said: “It was pretty nerve-wracking, to be honest. We started well and should probably have come away with more points from the first half, but our defence was pretty spot-on apart from the one try we conceded and we held out quite well.

“It made Christmas a lot more enjoyable having claimed that result but we’ve been straight back into it this week, because we know London Irish won’t just roll over.”

Playing a prominent role in a Newcastle side which has won 12 matches out of 17 in all competitions this term, he added: “We’ve won a lot of tight games this season and we’re in a good place.

“Everyone is buzzing because we feel like we’re making progress, we’re working hard together and people are happy. Morale is high as a result of everything that’s going on, and we’re all good mates. It’s enjoyable coming in every day and being a part of this environment, but we’re only half-way through the season and everyone wants to finish on a high.”

Keen to add to his debut Scotland cap after making his international bow against Samoa last month, the man who turned 25 this week said: “It has been an enjoyable couple of months with everything that’s been happening on the club front, then getting my Scotland cap.

“I’m keen to earn more caps but the way I’ll do that is through my club form, so the only thing I’m focusing on is doing well for Newcastle. I just want to keep trying to play well, keep the team on a winning footing and we’ll see where we go from there.”