NEWPORT Gwent Dragons star Toby Faletau aims to put last week’s bitter disappointment of losing to Australia with Wales firmly behind him by helping his region beat Bordeaux-Bègles on Friday night.
The Dragons must beat the Top 14 French side at Rodney Parade this week to keep their Amlin Challenge Cup hopes alive.
If they do, a victory in the return fixture next week at the Stade André Moga will give them a realistic chance of still winning their group after losing 26-10 away to Bath in October.
Faletau, 23, enjoyed a good autumn international series with Wales, playing in the narrow defeats to South Africa and Australia as well as the record triumph over Argentina.
The number eight missed the narrow 17-7 success over Tonga, the land of his birth, but was his adopted country’s man of the match in the 30-26 setback to the Wallabies on Saturday with a towering performance.
Reflecting on that reverse in what was a humdinger of an encounter, but still Wales’ ninth in a row against the men in gold, he said: “It is disappointing to have another defeat in the last game, especially after losing to them so many times.
“Going in (to the autumn) the target for the team was three out of four and obviously we only just won the two, so we are disappointed with that.
“The boys played some good rugby, but just didn’t finish off what was needed to win the games that we lost.”
Faletau is adamant the Amlin Challenge Cup is competition the Dragons are taking seriously and is relishing playing for his region again.
“I’m back into Dragons mode and the boys are looking to get a good result this weekend to keep us in contention for getting out of the group,” he said. “We want to progress in the tournament.”
On the challenge that Friday’s opponents will bring, Bordeaux-Bègles coached in defence by 2003 England World Cup winner Joe Worsley, Faletau said: “We have got to sit down with the coaches and analyse what they do and make a game-plan for ourselves to execute on the weekend.
“They are pretty good at the set-piece and the lineouts. They are pretty strong defensively. They are a typical French pack, big, looking to drive any lineout.
“The French packs always seem to be bigger and a bit harder to stop.
“They score most of their tries from line-outs, more than any side in the Top 14, so that’s the one thing we’ve got to look at and try and stop this weekend. It is a hard thing to stop once it gets going.”
Bordeaux-Bègles are currently tenth in the Top 14 table with six victories and seven defeats from their 13 games so far.
Their only away victory of the season came last weekend when they beat former Dragons wing Aled Brew’s side Biarritz 22-15, the Basque club bottom of the league, eight points adrift of nearest rivals Oyonnax.