European Challenge Cup
Parma take momentum into Falcons game
December 2, 2008
Parma centre Paul Emerick believes that Newcastle are in for a tough time in Italy © Getty Images
Overmach Parma are enjoying a flying start to their European Challenge Cup campaign, with just one more win required to make it their most successful to date. The Italian side currently sit top of pool four after recording back-to-back wins over Brive and Cetransa El Salvador.
The third scalp on the list for Parma will be Steve Bates' Newcastle Falcons, who arrive this weekend to the Stadio XXV Aprile for the first of two meetings in coming weeks.
"We're a pretty regular sort of team - no big names, just a bunch of boys who work hard for each other," said Parma's USA international centre Paul Emerick. "My two seasons with the Dragons were great, particularly the high level of competition playing in the Heineken Cup, but I am happy back here in Parma and, when we fire on all cylinders, we are a side to be reckoned with.
"When we beat Brive in Round 1 of the European Challenge Cup earlier this season that was a fantastic scalp for the club and then winning on the road at El Salvador kept the momentum going.
"Since then we have had a great 27-9 win at Benetton Treviso in the Super 10 - they are not beaten that often at home - and we edged it 22-20 over Roma last Saturday. These are enormously exciting times for us and it would be great to make history by sneaking into knock-out stages of the European Challenge Cup and being the first Italian team to reach the last eight of either of the European tournaments.
"However, we know that Newcastle will be a different challenge with the back-to-back matches and, hopefully, maybe we can sneak a win at home and then give them a good run for their money at their place.
"They have got a number of internationals in their squad but we must remember they have only got two arms and legs just like the rest of us.
"As to our style of play, I guess we haven't got a real set pattern but an open style certainly suits us and when we get on the front foot we are at our best so when teams try and slow us down that is frustrating."
"The standard of rugby in Italy is getting better and better," said Emerick. "Previously there used to be only four or five clubs who were well organised and playing well but now it is anyone's ball game - the league is pretty even and standards are better across the board."
Newcastle boss Bates knows that his side are in for a tough task in Parma. "We have done our research on Parma, and we know they are no mugs," he said. "Stuart Grimes played last season in Italy and has some useful contacts who have provided us with information, we have seen them in action and we are fully aware that especially in Italy it will be a tough encounter.
"Their domestic record in Italy this season is right up there with the top sides, they have already accounted for Brive in Europe and we will be going over there with a squad intent on getting the job done."
EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP 2008-09
(All kick-offs LOCAL times)
THURSDAY 4 DECEMBER, 2008
Pool 2 Montpellier v Toulon 20.45 Rob Debney (E) France 4
FRIDAY 5 DECEMBER, 2008
Pool 1 Dax v London Irish 19.00 Alan Falzone (It)
Pool 3 Bourgoin v Worcester Warriors 20.30 Colin Stanley (I)
Pool 4 Brive v Cetransa El Salvador 19.30 Claudio Passacantando (It)
SATURDAY 6 DECEMBER, 2008
Pool 1 Rugby Rovigo v Connacht Rugby 15.00 John Paul Doyle (E)
Pool 2 Northampton Saints v Bristol Rugby 15.00 Romain Poite (F)
Pool 4 Overmach Parma v Newcastle Falcons 14.30 Stefan Pomarede (F)
Pool 5 Bayonne v Saracens 20.45 Andrew McPherson (S) Eurosport France / Sky Sports
Pool 5 Mont de Marsan v Viadana 15.30 Gwyn Morris (W)
SUNDAY 7 DECEMBER, 2008
Pool 3 Bucuresti Oaks v Petrarca Rugby 16.30 Patrick Pechambert (F)