No-win situation for Stephenson in relegation shootout

Michael Stephenson finds himself in a difficult situation against Newcastle Falcons tomorrow, as Leeds Carnegie fight to remain in the Premiership.

Leeds have already thrown down the gauntlet for Saturday’s game, with their England hooker Steve Thompson saying this week that ‘people’s jobs and livelihoods are at stake.’

Stephenson will be all too aware of the consequences of a victory for his team this weekend which would relegate his former club to bottom spot with recovery time running out.

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The meeting with Newcastle sees him return to the club where he began his career. He puts the Falcons’ position in the Premiership down to players moving away, as he did when he left the North East for Bath in 2005.

He said: “I know how much hard work has gone in down the years at Newcastle to build the club up.

“So many talented players from the area have come through the system but have then moved away, and it is sad to see the Falcons down near the bottom of the table.”

The North East native insists that he will treat the game like any other and hopes to continue the form that has seen Leeds triumph in two out of three of their last league fixtures.

He said: “We seem to have found our stride now. We are creating chances, but most importantly, we are finishing them off.”

Newcastle’s lead over Carnegie has been cut from 11 points to two since their last meeting, and with so little separating the teams, Stephenson realises that mistakes need to be avoided at all costs.

“I expect this game to be very tight, and our discipline will need to be at its very best,” he said.

Leeds have shown vast improvements since Newcastle beat them 22-5 in their last meeting six weeks ago.

Stephenson reaffirmed his loyalty to his side and recognised the recent progress that his team have made.

“We have to treat the game as a normal match and try to continue the good work we have done in our recent games against London Irish, Sale and Exeter,” he said.