NEIL BACK believes Leeds Carnegie still have a 'mountain to climb' in their bid to avoid the drop despite his side claiming a belated first win of the season against Gloucester on New Year's Day.
Hendre Fourie and Michael Stephenson scored tries and Ceiron Thomas added five points with the boot as Leeds defeated the Cherry and Whites 15-13 at Headingley Carnegie to claim their first win at the 10th attempt.
The result pulled them to within three points of Newcastle, who lost yesterday at Wasps, with the two sides still to play each other twice in the remaining months of the season.
And Back, whose team put in a purposeful and spirited performance to claim a deserved victory, said: "Where we were in the table it was absolutely critical and non-negotiable that we beat Gloucester.
"That was what was communicated to the players during the week and they did the job.
"We're still adrift at the bottom of the Premiership, there's still a mountain to climb, but we believe we are equipped to once again consolidate our position in the Premiership and hopefully build a squad to compete in the top half where we all want to be.
"With three wins in a row now, including the two in Europe, its a good place to be."
Leeds's long-overdue first win was greeted with a sense of relief and euphoria around Headingley.
They closed out the win in mature fashion, and earned praise from Back for pulling together in the wake of a heavy defeat at Harlequins at the end of November that led to a lot of soul searching.
Back said: "I'm just proud they've dug in, we set objectives four or five weeks ago, after our last Premiership game at Harlequins where we were dished up that day.
"We had a hard look at ourselves; management, players and above in the boardroom to see where Leeds wanted to be in the future and we knew the response lay with the players.
"The three games we've had, we've won, so we're doing all we can and we hope to take that confidence and belief and winning mentality away to Bath, which is a difficult place to go.
"We know what we need to do to stay up in the Premiership and that's to get more points than the team below.
"There's 100 per cent belief we will stay in the Premiership and build Leeds Carnegie into a club fighting at the right end of the table."