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Gold seeing a problem with pacy Cherries.

Byline: Mark Smith

GARY Gold has admitted he is wrestling with the problem of having to contain Gloucester's free-running three-quarter line ahead of next weekend's trip to Kingsholm.

The Falcons have not won at the West Country venue since their title-winning exploits of 1998, and travel there knowing that defeat combined with a victory for London Wasps at Harlequins the same day would confine them to a bottom-place Premiership finish.

The Cherry and Whites' back division sees no shortage of pace with England Saxons tyro Johnny May joined by Charlie Sharples, James Simpson-Daniel and Freddie Burns behind the scrum. Newcastle, in contract, are struggling desperately for speed with wingers Luke Fielden, Suka Hufanga and Alex Tait all injured, although Ryan Shortland's exclusion under the two-foreigner rule could be ended if fellow Kiwi Jeremy Manning's dislocated thumb rules him out of contention.

In the absence of specialist wingers converted centres Corne Uys and Tom Bedford have had to stand in out wide, with Gold conceding that the pair will have their hands full should they start again there a week today.

He said: "Gloucester have got a lot of pace in the backs, and I am not quite sure what we are going to do about that because I cannot make our players quicker than they currently are.

"It is something we are going to have to work hard at, and the one way we can really influence that equation is simply by keeping hold of the ball a lot better. It sounds a simple thing to say, but if we have the ball then we don't have to defend and they can't score against us.

"Obviously you have to get the balance right and you cannot play too much rugby in the wrong areas of the field, because you put yourself in extreme danger if you start to take risks in those sorts of positions."

The Falcons have not won on the road in more than 13 months of league action, with Gold insisting: "We have a very poor away record and we need to do something about that quickly with two of our remaining three games being away from Kingston Park.

"Gloucester is going to be another tough challenge, and after disappointments at Worcester and Bath we really need to go down there looking to rectify those results."

Bouncing back from ten points down for a 22-19 victory against Sale Sharks eight days ago, Gold remains adamant that further progress is required for their next assignment.

"We have one or two things to do before the Gloucester game because they are a very good team who seem to be hitting their straps at the right time of the season - especially at home," he said.

"It is certainly not going to get any easier for us, and we saw that against a Sale Sharks team who exposed us out wide on a number of occasions."

Asked whether or not he remains confident of maintaining top-flight status when Dean Richards takes the reins in August, the South African said: "I don't really think about that, because my main overriding hope for Newcastle is that they will be a better rugby team regardless of which league they are in.

"I want the players to understand how hard you have to work to become a top contender at this level, and I hope that there will be an improvement in their structures and team culture. "

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OUT WIDE Corne Uys has been shunted into a new role because of injuries
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 7, 2012
Words:588
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