Vastly-experienced prop David Wilson is backing his Newcastle Falcons side to find yet another level on Sunday when they host French powerhouse Montpellier at Kingston Park Stadium in the Heineken Champions Cup.
The 1pm kick-off will be the Falcons’ first home game in Europe’s elite competition for 14 seasons, and comes hot on the heels of last weekend’s eye-catching one-point triumph away to three-time winners Toulon.
“I was so pleased for the lads, but the great thing has been that we’ve not got too carried away with it,” said Wilson, the former England tight-head who started in Toulon and helped steady the ship after going 10-0 down inside the opening quarter.
“Yeah, we had a good night on Sunday with a few drinks in the hotel, but we didn’t go wild, and the chat almost straightaway was about how we could improve further for Montpellier.
“We’ve still got a lot to work on, we can perform so much better in certain areas and I think we could have won by more. I know the boys feel the same as a group, and as much as it was great to start with a win we know we still have to keep improving to build on it now.
“In the middle of a busy season there’s not always time in midweek to do a load of physical training work, but what we’re doing here is working very smartly and being astute in terms of how we analyse our performance. Games come down to small margins at this level and one mistake can cost you, so we’re really smart in what we do now as opposed to physically flogging the lads during the week.”
Montpellier and Newcastle both started the Pool 5 campaign with victories, the French side defeating Edinburgh 21-15 at home. Wilson said: “They’re a physically big side and we know they’ll be coming out firing early on.
“We’ve done our homework on them and we feel there are certain things we can exploit, but they’ve got very high-quality players and we know it’ll be a massive test. They’re big blokes and they’ll be on a hard, quick surface, so we’ll certainly be looking to play at a high tempo and I’m looking forward to the game.
“If we can play as a team like we did last weekend and execute the things we’ve talked about during the week, then we’re in with a good chance.
“I’m sure our crowd will get behind us – they were magnificent over in Toulon in making themselves heard and it makes a big difference to the lads to hear that noise when you’re starting to tire in a game. The support helps you find an energy reserve that you didn’t think you had, and it’s really so important for us to have that in our favour.”
Keen for the feelgood factor to continue after last weekend’s 26-25 triumph in Toulon, Wilson added: “It was a great weekend to go down there and get the win. I wouldn’t say ‘steal’ because I thought we deserved it, but it was a close one and it was nice to be able to complete the job on the day.
“I certainly enjoyed it, all the boys did, and it was honestly one of the best wins of my career.
“We went 10-0 down and at that point you could be forgiven for thinking it was a long day, but the boys stuck to the game plan and never lost faith. I was really proud of the boys for the way in which they came back, and we enjoyed the whole experience.
“We knew how Toulon were going to play the game and we spotted a lot of opportunities early on. Toulon had some big boys out there but the way we played as a team was the really noticeable thing, and we just stuck at it. We knew that if we just kept the pressure on and played as a team the chances would come, and we took them when they did.
“Our kicking game was really good, and we put ourselves in the right areas. That side of things was executed really well, and as a forward that’s what you want.”