The Falcons have been one of the must-watch teams in the Aviva Premiership in recent weeks, winning plenty of praise and plaudits for the way they have thrown off the shackles to play an entertaining and threatening brand of rugby.
This was no more evident than last Saturday afternoon when, while the Saints were winning at Twickenham, Newcastle ran Saracens extremely close with two late tries, with only a couple of missed conversions denying Dean Richards’ men the win.
And Stephenson says that this recent form means that Newcastle is a side to be taken seriously.
“The days of seeing Newcastle as an ‘easy’ game are gone,” he says. “They’re a team that are on the up. They gave Saracens a good run for their money last weekend and we know that they’ve got big ball carriers on the wing and in the centre and will be a big challenge for us.
“They’ve got a good coaching team and recruited well over the summer. Going up to Newcastle is always hard, but they’ve improved on the road as well this season and are playing some good rugby.”
The Saints may have extended their winning run to six matches in all competitions with the 30-25 win over Harlequins last weekend, but players and coaches alike said both after the game and in midweek that no one was satisfied with how the team played.
And the Junior World Champion says that this has been good to use to focus the mind ahead of the return to Franklin’s Gardens in the opening match of 2015, adding: “We weren’t happy with our performance at Twickenham.
“We’ve got to bounce back from that, that’s our main goal this week, and there won’t be any complacency. We’ve looked at what we didn’t do well, have worked hard, and are looking forward to putting those wrongs right this week.”
There are a final few tickets for the Saints’ New Year clash with Newcastle, which can be booked online throughout the week at www.tinyurl.com/SAI-NEW-1415 - use [email protected] to beat the match day queues, with seat selection available on any device!