Newcastle Falcons’ dismal start to the season is no reason to panic, according to head coach Alan Tait. The Falcons find themselves nine points adrift at the bottom of the Aviva Premiership table and have won just one of their opening nine games this season.

Tait believes “It is a long way off worrying time”, and in a way his reasoning is understandable. In February last year the Falcons went 11 points clear of Leeds but by the end of the season they were level on points and it was only points difference that saved Newcastle. The difference this year though is how bad Newcastle appear to be in comparison to other potential relegation contenders. Recent struggler Sale got off to a flier, slowing a little as of late but they have points on the board and are looking up towards a Heineken Cup place rather than over their shoulder at Newcastle. Last season’s new boys Exeter already look like an established mid table side and look unlikely to be threatened by relegation this year. Worcester are perhaps the only saving grace for the Falcons and it would be hard to see anyone other than these two making way come May.

The Falcons boss may not be worrying but this weekend’s encounter with Harlequins exposed the frailties in his side. They did not seem a thousand miles off the level of league leaders Harlequins but the sloppy errors and little mistakes were all too common. They made numerous visits to the ‘Quins 22 only to fluff their lines and give away silly penalties and scrums almost every time. Their ill discipline cost them at the weekend, playing with 13 men at one stage, early in the second half.

The silly mistakes and the lack of players capable of grabbing the game by the scruff of its neck will cost the Falcons this season unless they sharpen up quickly. It may already be too late though. The nine point gap to Worcester needs to start to narrow sooner rather than later. If we get to the Six Nations with Newcastle still so far adrift it is hard to see them picking up enough points to even remotely worry Worcester, or anyone else for that matter.