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Players are to blame for slump: Chris.

Byline: MARK SMITH

FALCONS scrum-half Chris Pilgrim insists Newcastle's players rather than management should shoulder the blame for the club's current predicament.

With his team at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership after last weekend's 30-29 defeat to relegation rivals Leeds, the 25-year-old said: "It is all down to us because we are the ones out there on the pitch.

"Alan Tait and his coaching team could not prepare us any better, and they send us out every week with a clear gameplan to go out and execute. "If, for whatever reason, the result does not follow, then it is down to the players.

"The coaching just is not an issue at all.

"Everything we do in training is well thought out, from the conditioning to the rugby and the video analysis, so we as players know we have to take responsibility for the results out on the field."

Adrian Jarvis' late drop-goal sent the Falcons tumbling to the bottom of the table, but Friday's visit of fourth-placed Northampton provides an opportunity for instant redemption.

Champions Leicester and then Bath are the subsequent visitors to Kingston Park, with Pilgrim saying: "They are all hard games, but I am excited because I want to take on the best."

With Northampton bouncing up to Kingston Park after a thrilling Heineken Cup quarter-final win over Ulster last weekend, the former Nottingham scrum-half is expecting a full-on encounter.

He added: "They have a massive counter-attacking threat with Ben Foden, Chris Ashton and Paul Diggin as their back three."

With a season's-high home crowd in attendance last weekend for the visit of Leeds, Pilgrim insists the backing of the Falcons fans remains a key ingredient.

He said: "The crowd are really important, and the lift you get from them out on the field is massive.

"You cannot hear what every person is saying, but you can feel an overall energy and mood from the stands which transmits to the players.

"Subconsciously it lifts you and gives you a boost, so it is important people stick with us."

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BLAME GAME The Falcons' scrum half Chris Pilgrim
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 13, 2011
Words:352
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