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Gopperth praise for Ford

Newcastle star Jimmy Gopperth has paid tribute to former England defence coach Mike Ford for his "outstanding" work with the relegation-threatened Falcons.

Gopperth and company host reigning Aviva Premiership champions Saracens on Friday night, knowing that victory would keep alive hopes of Newcastle avoiding the drop.

"Mike has been outstanding, and all of the boys love working with him," Gopperth told the club's official website. "He has given us an easier system that the boys have bought into. What he has brought to the team is now showing on the pitch, and we have confidence when defending."

He added: "His man-management is outstanding, and all of the boys love working with him."

A stunning 29-20 win at Gloucester last weekend - Newcastle's first Premiership triumph on the road for 14 months - made it back-to-back league successes.

And if they could topple Saracens it would pile the pressure on 11th-placed Wasps prior to their Recreation Ground appointment with Bath on Saturday.

Newcastle are currently four points behind Wasps. Their final Premiership game is away against the Londoners on May 5.

Newcastle are hoping for a 10,000 crowd to greet Saracens, who need victory themselves to realistically remain on course for a home play-off tie next month.

Gopperth added: "We are obviously delighted with the win down at Gloucester, and I suppose you have to take stock and enjoy those wins. It gives us great momentum going into these last two games. and we are full of confidence. We are very much looking forward to having a crack against Saracens at home on Friday night.

"We are not going to get ahead of ourselves following our great victory on the road, and we know that we have to keep our feet on the ground and get stuck into Saracens."

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