Bath director Ian McGeechan ready for Gloucester test

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The Independent Online

Sir Ian McGeechan has acknowledged the threat Gloucester will pose to Bath's unbeaten Aviva Premiership run in an eagerly-awaited west country derby tomorrow.

Bath have won all five of their league games in 2011, climbing to fourth spot, four points behind Gloucester.

But their Kingsholm hosts can boast an eight-match sequence without defeat in all competitions, with one more victory set to make it Gloucester's best results return since 2002.

"Gloucester are a very good side," said Bath rugby director McGeechan.

"Their home record is second to none, and they play with width and they play with speed.

"You know they will threaten the same thing in four or five different ways."

Bath though, have jumped from ninth to fourth, following their five-try rout of Northampton two weeks ago by edging a tense contest at Exeter last Saturday.

McGeechan added: "We made mistakes (against Exeter). You could say that tactically we've played better, but just for the performance, under pressure in a fairly hostile environment, I was really pleased.

"Exeter were a very tight, physical, combative team and we were able to control that situation and not panic."

Premiership leaders Leicester and second-placed Saracens meet at Welford Road tomorrow, with Tigers seeking a 10th successive league win, the best run by any club since Wasps posted 11 during the 2003/04 season.

Saracens though, have already beaten Leicester this term, and they are the only team to have toppled the Tigers at Welford Road in a league fixture for almost two and a half years.

Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said: "Thirteen points from our last three (league) games is everything we wanted. We're on a nice little run at the moment.

"Welford Road is a tough place to go, but we won there last season, so the boys have no fear of going there."

Newcastle boss Alan Tait believes the Falcons have unfinished business to deal with when they resume Premiership action at Kingston Park tonight.

Play-off hopefuls Harlequins are the visitors, but Tait is still pained by events of a fortnight ago.

On that occasion, Newcastle blew a 13-9 lead against Exeter as Chiefs marksman Gareth Steenson kicked three penalties during the final quarter to help clinch a 23-13 verdict.

It led a furious Tait to fire a broadside at his players, and he also accused them of letting down the home supporters.

"Friday night at home to Harlequins is a massive chance to put things right at Kingston Park, especially in light of how badly we finished our last home match against Exeter," he said.

"Hopefully, we can get the crowd in and win them over on the back of the Leeds result last Sunday.

"It is a short turnaround between games, and we need to follow it (Leeds) up with a win."

Newcastle, currently 11th in the table, opened a seven-point gap on bottom club Leeds with their 22-5 success, and victory tonight would leave the Yorkshire outfit hovering over the relegation trap-door.