ALEX TAIT claims Newcastle Falcons are refreshed and ready to attack the final phase of the Aviva Premiership season after a fortnight’s break.

Falcons return to action when they travel to Harlequins on Saturday, with their absence from the final stages of the cup competitions meaning they have not been in action since March 5.

Tait, who hails from Wolsingham, is just two games away from his 200th competitive appearance for Falcons, and will head into the final six weeks of the season with an abundance of energy after an enforced mid-season break.

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“Sometimes during the season when you’ve got that week-to-week pattern it’s good to have a short time away to recharge the batteries,” said the 29-year-old full-back. “Unfortunately, it arose due to us not being involved in the cup competitions, but the benefit of having that short time away is the ability to return mentally and physically refreshed for the closing part of the Premiership.

“It has been a bit like a mini off-season, and the result has been that everybody has come back really hungry to get stuck into the games which are coming up. I know my own body has been thankful for the opportunity to have this little freshener and the lads have fired back into it since we’ve come back.”

Falcons currently occupy eighth position in the Premiership table, and are determined to overhaul the eight-point gap that currently separates them from sixth-placed Leicester Tigers in the final qualifying spot for the European Champions Cup.

Saturday’s trip to the Twickenham Stoop will see them line up against a Harlequins team sitting six points and one place above them, and Dean Richards’ side are determined not to allow their standards to drop and undo the good work that has been carried out so far this season.

“We had a players’ meeting last week about what we want to do for the last five games,” said Tait. “As a set of lads, we want to make sure we do everything we can to be at our best every time we go on the field.

“We’ve got an opportunity to have a special season – certainly the best one we’ve had here for a while – because we haven’t played Champions Cup rugby here for more than a decade now.

“As a group if we can get into that top six, that’s our aim. It would be our highest finish in more than ten years, it would be an awesome achievement for the lads the coaching staff and our supporters, and we just want to do everything we can in our preparation for every single game.”

Having beaten Harlequins 38-32 when the two teams met at Kingston Park in December, the former Consett RFC junior added: “Quins away is the first match in that final block, and we’re going down there to fire into them.

“They’ll have all their big boys back from the Six Nations but we believe we can beat anyone if we play well on the day, and we believe in ourselves that we can go down there and get the result. We’ll certainly give it our best shot.”