Leeds Carnegie's Michael Stephenson says he is looking forward to the challenge of facing his old team, Bath, in the Aviva Premiership this Saturday but knows it will be no easy task claiming a win at The Rec.
Stephenson spent five seasons with Bath, before joining Leeds Carnegie in the summer and was a try scorer for them when they secured a vital win over Leeds last season at Headingley Carnegie, which helped dramatically to turn their season around.
This season though Bath's only win at the Recreation Ground in all competitions since the start of October was against Cardiff Blues in the Anglo Welsh LV= Cup, but Stephenson believes this does not indicate his side will be in for an easy time and thinks these results will only make the Bath team more determined to turn things around.
"The Rec is a very tough place to win and I think that especially with them having had some bad results down there this season they will really want to be coming out in the New Year and putting things right," said Stephenson.
"I think last season this was where they turned their corner and started putting wins together. It's a huge game for us and it will be really tough down there, away teams never get an easy run out there but we will look forward to it and take the confidence from our win against Gloucester into the match."
That win against Gloucester on New Year's Day was Leeds Carnegie's first in the Aviva Premiership Rugby competition this season and Stephenson, who was a try scorer in the game, admits getting that win was a big relief for the team, "With our games against Northampton and Newcastle being cancelled everyone has been itching to get out there and put things right."
"We've been sat at the bottom of the table and as we've had no games we didn't have the opportunity to change that so we were anxious to get a game under our belt and get a win, which is the most important thing."
"So after the win against Gloucester there was a good sense of relief and because of all the hard work we have done in the last four weeks it was very rewarding."
Leeds Carnegie are now 3 points off their nearest rival, eleventh placed Newcastle, and Stephenson says he and his teammates are aware that there is a lot of hard work to be done before the end of the season, "We are still bottom of the league and we know that and it's going to take repeat performances like the one against Gloucester to get us off the bottom."
"We will target the game against Newcastle but we know we need wins wherever we can get them so we will go down to Bath and hopefully get in the game and keep it tight and we hope to come away with another win."