IT is the kind of fixture list which could keep you up at night, but Dom Barrow is backing Newcastle Falcons to shock the Premiership’s big guns.
Facing Bath on Saturday in the Roman city, Newcastle then meet Harlequins, Northampton and Leicester in a month which could well have implications on their bid to remain a Premiership side.
“There is no pressure on us whatsoever and it is a real opportunity for us to collect points,” said the Yorkshireman, who returned from a hamstring injury during Friday’s 29-0 LV= Cup win over Newport Gwent Dragons.
“Some of the teams we play will be without their internationals, but still a lot of people outside this group are probably not expecting us to do much.
“It just means we can go out and express ourselves as we did against the Dragons and our squad will pretty much stay together at a time when lots of clubs are losing guys in big numbers for the Six Nations.”
Showing no ill effects from the injury sustained in training two months ago, the England Under-20s World Cup winner said: “I didn't feel it at all, which is really pleasing.
“It was a cold night, so a nice one to test it out, and especially on that surface.
“When you fatigue it will be the calves and hamstrings which feel it, but I came through fine and was just glad to be back into it.”
Earning the approval of the 3,326 who braved the elements, Barrow said: “It has massively lifted the place and the squad feels completely different when we are winning.
“There is a cohesion and unity whch you struggle to find when you are losing games on a regular basis, although I should add we are a cohesive group in any case.
“It does make a difference, especially for the fans.
“There will be some supporters who say they don’t want to pay hard-earned money if we are not scoring tries and the way we attacked in that first half went some way to addressing that.
“It was harder into the wind after half-time because we couldn’t control the territory as easily, but at least we have shown we want to play rugby and we want to excite people.”
Barrow added: “I felt it went really well, overall.
“We have always an ambition to play and we showed a lot of intent.
“Some people had labelled it a dead-rubber, but for us as a group it was really important we gained winning momentum going into the league games coming up.
“We have done that in the sense we played the way we wanted to play and in very difficult conditions. It poured down before the game and the ball was very greasy.
“Although there were a few errors we know fans want to come down and watch attractive, exciting and entertaining rugby and I felt we really delivered that.
“There were little elements of accuracy we could sharpen up on and at times just understanding when it is right to play and when it is right to manage the game.
“For example, we took a scrum on halfway and kicked a penalty with the last play at the first half, which gave us that three-try buffer. It is just a bit of nous we have not always shown and we have learnt in that area.
“There are little bits to clear up, but on the whole it was a big step in the right direction.”
Brimming with enthusiasm at the contribution of Samoan wing Sinoti Sinoti, the former Leeds lock insisted: “Sinoti is like another forward when he carries the ball.
“He is always coming off his wing looking for it and his work-rate is superb. He brings a physical edge ,which is something we need, and hopefully he can keep showing that.”