Cardiff Blues boss Dai Young admits his side will need another big performance on the road if they are to keep their hopes of European glory alive.
The Blues travel to Newcastle on Sunday for the quarter-finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup on the back of a fine Magners League win at Ulster last weekend.
Young’s men made it back-to-back victories over their Irish rivals with a 33-24 victory at Ravenhill and the former Wales and Lions prop believes they will have to put on an equally impressive display to advance to the semi-finals of Europe’s second-tier tournament.
“We are very respectful of the challenge that is in front of us and we know that if we don’t play anywhere near our best we won’t win,” said Young, whose side qualified for the last eight courtesy of a stunning bonus-point triumph at Harlequins in the last pool game of the Heineken Cup.
“Make no bones about it, there will be no second chances for us.
“If we don’t play and we don’t perform we know we won’t win in Newcastle.
“So we know we are going into the game under a bit of pressure.
“But it was the same kind of pressure we were under when we went to Harlequins in the final round of the Heineken Cup group matches and we were able to respond to that.
“Hopefully we will have the same kind of performance we had against Ulster.
“There’s no reason why we can’t take that Ulster result into the next game and get the result we want.”
The Blues have already beaten their English opponents once this season – a comfortable 45-24 win at the Cardiff City Stadium on January 31 in the LV= Cup – but Young insists the forthcoming battle will be barely recognisable in comparison.
Taking on the Falcons in the North East is always a more difficult proposition than when they fly south, especially as Steve Bates sent a below-strength team to the Welsh capital just over two months ago.
Young also expects conditions to play a part, meaning the Blues will have to gain an edge up front if they are to reach the last four.
“They sent a second side down before to Cardiff so we are not underestimating the challenge,” added Young.
“It will be a different occasion and they will have a totally different side out.
“They have got quality and there is no doubt about that. You just have to look at their squad to see the talent they have got.
“They have pulled some wins out this season, although they might be frustrated with their consistency.
“But we are not underestimating the challenge and we will have to be good to win.
“The pitch up there is very difficult and it does not allow you to play too much rugby.
“They grind out results because they have a massive pack. They have a strong scrum and they depend a lot on their driving lineout.
“I expect them to play a lot of field position and if we spend a lot of periods in our own half we are going to struggle. We are going to have to combat that and try and win the territorial battle.”
Young may be focusing entirely on Sunday’s tie with the Falcons but he does admit that winning the Amlin Challenge Cup overall would be a massive achievement for the club.
Having come so close in last season’s Heineken Cup – the blues were knocked out in a penalty shootout by Leicester Tigers at the semi-final stage – European glory of any sort would be welcomed with open arms.
“Our goals are to qualify for Europe and there is no reason why we can’t go all the way in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
“It is massive for our season. We want to go on and win that competition.
“But there is no point talking about winning the Amlin Challenge Cup now if we don’t go to Newcastle and win.”