TOM Catterick has warned his Newcastle Falcons side they can ill afford a repeat of last weekend’s showing against Connacht Eagles.
The Falcons were 16-6 winners against the Irish province’s second string despite a below-par performance and travel to Welsh part-timers Cross Keys this Saturday searching for home advantage in the British and Irish Cup quarter-finals.
“It was just as bad to play in as it must have been to watch,” said Catterick, referring to an error-strewn 80 minutes which saw home prop Jonny Golding claim the only try.
“We received a major telling-off afterwards from our captain Will Welch and similar again from Dean Richards and the coaches.
“We expect a lot more from ourselves, and it was not the first game we haven’t performed well in.
“We are getting closer and closer to the business end of the season, our fans expect more and we expect a lot more from ourselves.”
With the Falcons up against a Cross Keys side which drew 27-27 at Newport in last weekend’s Welsh derby, Catterick added: “From a travel perspective it will be a tough one because it is a heck of a bus trip down there.
“I am sure the home crowd will be getting right behind them like the Welsh tend to do in those games.
“It will be one of those weeks where we focus on ourselves rather than the opposition and we have to really buckle down.
“I wasn’t involved when Cross Keys came up to Newcastle because I was being rested that week – or dropped, whichever way you look at it!
“I watched the game, though, and they looked a decent outfit.”
Glad to be back on the field after damaging knee ligaments in an awkward-looking fall at Bedford last year, the ex-England under-20s cap added: “From a purely personal point of view it was nice to be out there again, but the bigger picture is the team and we were just frustrated all round.
“Full-back is my main position and I do enjoy playing there, so I am thankful to Dean and all the coaches for giving me a go. Hopefully, I didn’t do too badly despite the result and I would love to get a few more runs there, but I can’t expect too much after a game like that.”
Elaborating on what he believes to be the shortcomings shown by the unbeaten league leaders, Catterick added: “You have to credit Connacht for defending really well, and they were physical right throughout the game.
“Having said that, though, we know we can do a lot better and it needs to be sorted out.
“For us it was more about our game control.
“We have shown at times this season when we play good rugby we have the skills to break down defences, but when the weather is like we have at the moment you can’t run it out from your own 22.
“We have to realise that for all we do want to play exciting rugby, we have to play it in the right areas.
“In patches against Connacht we did do that, but there were other large spells where we went away from the script and thought we had to do everything at once.
“Sometimes the best thing to do is stick it down into their half, saying ‘let’s see you take it out from there,’ and seeing what they can do.”