SURVIVAL in the Premiership remains the long-term target for the Leeds Carnegie squad that fly out to Parma tomorrow, yet a well-executed Italian job this weekend would help them accomplish that goal.
Leeds visit Crociati Rugby in the European Challenge Cup, the side they thrashed 55-6 at Headingley Carnegie on Sunday, looking to continue building a head of steam towards the crucial league fixture at Newcastle Falcons on Boxing Day.
"You're normally focussing on the next game, but in these two games we're preparing to play against Newcastle," said head coach Neil Back, who also referred to Monday's A-league defeat to Leicester Tigers as beneficial in shaping a squad to face the side directly above the winless Yorkshire club.
"We have got an eye on Newcastle and we're putting together a very competitive, compact side that will hopefully take some belief, some confidence into what is a key game for us.
"It will be our 10th Premiership game but there are still enough points to be won. Hopefully, on the back of two wins, we can make it three at Newcastle and take that confidence into the rest of the season.
"We are building a game-plan that will take us into the block of Premiership games against Newcastle, Gloucester and Bath.
"Last week's win was the start of a period of five games we've identified in which we need to improve the performance and get wins. Our objectives were met and you could see the confidence and belief grow as the game unfolded, the lads' chests were out, the body language was positive, they were enjoying it. It was exactly what we needed and had been working hard to get to.
"I was pleased for the players. It was a relief, there were smiles on faces. We know we only did what we had to do and we need to improve on that this week."
Top spot in Challenge Cup Pool Four is available with Leeds trailing Stade Francais by five points after three games.