Levi says Falcons can succeed in Europe

Newcastle’s Samoan international Filipo Levi believes the Falcons are set fair to succeed in Europe, as they host French side Montauban in Thursday night’s Amlin Challenge Cup clash at Kingston Park .


Levi was part of the Falcons side which fell 25-13 at Gloucester last weekend in league action despite a barnstorming personal performance, having started in all three of Samoa’s autumn Tests against Wales, France and Italy.


“It was mixed emotions really on Saturday because I felt I had one of my better games for the Falcons, but the main thing was that the result didn’t go our way,” said the 30-year-old, who joined Newcastle over the summer from Welsh club Ospreys.


“It was good to be back with the boys again after a few weeks with Samoa, and we’re looking forward to improving on what happened down at Gloucester.


“We made a few line breaks and created some good chances, but that final pass just wasn’t quite there. That’s something we’ve been working hard on at training this week, and those little skills just need to be that bit sharper when we get our opportunities.”


Turning attentions to Thursday’s clash against Montauban, the former Highlanders and Otago man said: “People believe the French don’t travel, but to be honest I think that’s a bit of a myth.


“From our own point of view the focus is really just on how we prepare as a team, but as usual we’re giving them our full respect and going through the videos of Montauban.


“They’re tenth in the French league at the moment but seem to be in some good recent form. They beat Clermont in their last game and got a bonus point away at Toulouse the week before that, so they’re obviously a very dangerous team.


“From my own perspective I know their Fijian wing Vilimoni Delasau very well from when we were both at the Highlanders, and I’ve played against Shannon Paku during his time at the Hurricanes.


“They’re a bit of a ‘green machine’ in their bright shirts by the looks of things, but in all seriousness we’ve done our homework on the videos so we know what to expect from them.”


With Newcastle well-placed in the shakedown for the last eight, Levi insisted: “If we can win on Thursday then it puts us in with a great chance of making the quarter-finals and even perhaps getting a home draw, so we know this is a big game for us in front of our home fans.


“Playing them back-to-back gives it maybe a bit more of a Test series feel, and from looking at the scores when we met them three years ago we lost in France before beating them 35-0 at home the very next week. We know that going over to Montauban next Friday is an extremely tough ask, so if we can lay the foundation on Thursday night in Newcastle then we’re half-way there.”


Looking to use Europe as a tonic to get back to winning ways, Levi said: “The Amlin Challenge Cup has been a strange competition for us this season, because we’ve probably seen the two extremes in terms of performances.


“We played poorly and almost lost in Padova during the very first game, but then at home to Albi we really blew them away and ran in seven tries to none. The upshot is that we’re now the top seeds with two wins and two bonus points, but that means nothing if we don’t back it up on Thursday night.


“Everyone at the club knows how important it is that we make the quarter-finals, and especially a home quarter-final, and these next two games are massive for us in terms of achieving that goal.”

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