Stuart: Bristol win is just the start for us
The scrum-half made his comeback from a long-term foot injury by playing the full 80 minutes in Friday’s 30-15 victory over previously-unbeaten Bristol Bears, with the Falcons recording a four-try bonus point into the bargain.
“We beat Bristol but it’s only one game, and I’m sure Bristol will be the first to say they didn’t play very well on the night,” said Stuart, who has made 63 appearances since joining from Richmond in the summer of 2017.
“Things clicked for us but it was only one win out of four games, and Sarries will be a different challenge this weekend.
“It’s just how we adapt to that and what consistency we can deliver that will determine the outcome, but we’ve at least shown now that we can do it.
“We had two tag lines in the week which were ‘attitude and intensity’, and I think both were there in volumes against Bristol. We had attitude in terms of things like our kick-chase, and the intensity of our tackle contest.
“The discipline across the board was much better even though we had two yellow cards, and then the discipline to score pretty much every time we were in the red zone.”
Even with a nine-day turnaround Stuart says there is no time for he and his team-mates to rest on their laurels, with unbeaten Saracens arriving in a rich seam of form following their own demolition of champions Leicester Tigers last weekend.
“There are no easy games in the Gallagher Premiership, and that’s why everyone loves it,” he said.
“Regardless of who you’ve just beaten or lost against, the next game is always going to be tough. Some teams bring with them a bit of prestige if you beat them, and Saracens would definitely be one of those.
“They’ve been very good for a long time now and they’re looking really good again this season. They hammered Leicester last weekend and are probably smarting from losing the Premiership final in June, but as we saw down at Worcester emotion can play a massive part on the day.
“Saracens kick the ball a lot and they’re very good at it, but they seem to be playing a bit more this season. They’re efficient in everything they do, and when they’re in the right areas they’ll play.”
Focusing predominantly on his own team rather than the opposition, he added: “We’re probably still finding our own strengths a little bit, and with the changes we’ve had on the coaching team I think that’s understandable.
“Dave Walder has gone from doing the attack to defence, Mark Laycock has gone from doing skills to running the attack and it takes time for them to imprint what they want.
“I’d say we’ve got an ambitious style of play, allied to that traditional North East grunt which people probably know us for. We’ve always had a good maul, our scrum is getting there and it’s not a bad balance.
“The thing like Dave said after the Bristol game is to make it the norm rather than the exception, so that’s the big challenge for us.
“There’s an obvious feelgood factor and a certain amount of plaudits that come with beating the top-of-the-league team on national TV, but when we’re sat there on one win from four games we can’t be thinking it’s job done.
“This is just the start for us.”
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