SIMON HAMMERSLEY insists Newcastle Falcons will not be taking anything for granted when they look to record their first win of the season at Worcester Warriors this afternoon.

Worcester started the season as strong favourites for relegation, and back-to-back defeats to Wasps and Sale have done nothing to alter the perception that the Warriors are the weakest team in the Gallagher Premiership.

Newcastle have also lost their opening two games, but there are mitigating factors behind the defeats, with their season-opener pitting them against reigning champions Saracens and last weekend’s game taking them to a Leicester Tigers side that had been galvanised by the departure of head coach Matt O’Connor.

Falcons still managed to pick up a four-try bonus point at Welford Road, and Dean Richards’ side will be expected to claim their first victory at Sixways this afternoon. Not, however, that they will be taking their opponents lightly.

“Worcester have had two close losses to good sides in Wasps and Sale, and we have to take them seriously,” said the full-back. “Pundits at the start of the season will always pick out a couple of teams who they think will struggle, and in past years we’ve been among those names. We know first-hand it means nothing when you’re bracketed for that kind of thing and we’ve got a lot of respect for Worcester.

“They have a big, physical pack, they base a lot of their game on that forward power and then in the backs they have a lot of ball-players in the middle, plus a back three who can carve you apart if you give them the ball in space.

“Chris Pennell at full-back is a good player who has time on the ball and makes it look easy, and if you combine that with two fast and powerful guys like Josh Adams and Bryce Heem on the wings, it’s a really nice back three. We know how important our kick-chase is going to be in terms of strangling their counter-attack, and it’ll be a good battle.”

While their points tally might not match up to what would be expected of a side that finished fourth in the table last season, Falcons’ early-season performances have been reasonably strong.

There was certainly no sense of panic in the wake of last weekend’s high-scoring defeat at Leicester, although Richards will be demanding a marked defensive improvement against Worcester.

“It has been a so-so start to the season,” said Hammersley. “We felt Saracens at home was a game we could have won but we left a few chances out there, and to be fair to them they can strangle teams. That was a bit disappointing, and Leicester likewise, because for all that we produced in attack we just didn’t defend.

“We’re pleased in the sense that we’ve shown we can score tries but we know we need to step it up. Defensively, we’ve been working hard at ironing out the errors and we don’t feel we’re far away.

“The coaching team have put in place the correct game plans and we haven’t been able to deliver them well enough, so it’s a case of us as players shouldering that in terms of our concentration and discipline to keep doing our own jobs.

“The good thing is they’re all things which are easily fixed, and we’re confident we can go down to Worcester and turn them over.”