Saturday 14 December 2013 – 1.30pm (UK time)
Peroni Stadium, Calvisano
Amlin Challenge Cup Pool 3 #4
It’s all a bit tight at the top of Pool 3 now, with both ourselves and Brive having 14 points but the French side ahead after their win over the Falcons in October. Realistically it looks like the winner of the game at KP next month will go through, with the potential for a home tie against a big club dropping down from the Heineken Cup.
That’d be quite exciting. It would also be our first European quarter-final since 2010, when Cardiff Blues came to Newcastle and gave us a rugby lesson. Just looking at our team that day – some rarely-head names in the squad, like Josh Afu, Alex Walker and Chris Micklewood. Cardiff had Leigh Halfpenny, Jamie Roberts and Martyn Williams in the starting line-up, and a 21-year-old Sam Warburton on the bench.
I managed to miss the whole game on the radio yet again yesterday, getting home about 3.15pm when it was probably about full-time. It seems to have been fairly comfortable after Zach Kibirige’s early try. It’s good to see him running in the scores still at Challenge Cup level after a good record in the Championship, and surely we’ll see Kibby get at least one outing in the league later this season.
It’s a shame the Falcons couldn’t get the fourth try and bonus point, which would have put us in proper command of the group, but we should be capable of two victories at home next month. Then the only thing I personally need to worry about is that the quarter-final is at home and on the Sunday (or Thursday) of the first weekend in April – family wedding on the Saturday and in turn, that probably means the pub on the Friday night.
Not a great deal to say about the game then, I guess we’ll find out more when Smithy’s reports go up. But after a difficult little spell in the Premiership and mixed a LV= Cup campaign so far, it’s good to see Europe going well and to get a couple of wins, with eight tries in all. Now it’s off to Exeter, a very difficult game but a win there would really help kick-start our season.
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