The two top points scorers in the Amlin Challenge Cup go head to head at Kingston Park on Friday night, with Falcons fly half Jimmy Gopperth determined to win the battle of the boot.
Newcastle's Kiwi marksman tops the European scoring charts with 56 points from his five outings this season, with French counterpart Ludovic Mercier in second place after racking up 45 points for his Italian side Petrarca Padova.
The prolific Gopperth has averaged more than ten points a game in his 16 appearances for the Falcons since joining from North Harbour, and is relishing the chance to lock horns with Mercier again as Newcastle continue their quest for a quarter-final place on Friday night (kick-off 8pm).
"I remember he had a massive left boot, and he pretty much kicked everything he touched," said the former Hurricanes and Blues stand-off, referring to Mercier's efforts when the Falcons and Padova met in northern Italy back in October.
"He mixed it up with a lot of spiral bombs, touch finders and little dinks over the defensive line, but in hindsight we probably didn't put enough pressure on him. On Friday we'll be looking to rectify that, to cut his decision-making time down and force some errors with the heat our back row will be putting on him. He's definitely a class player though, there's no getting away from that."
Having seen his side scrape home with a 29-27 bonus point victory on a soaking day at Stadio Plebiscito, Gopperth said: "It was torrential rain, I can definitely remember that. I don't think I've seen rain like it!
"That probably suited them more than it did us, but it's the same for both sides and our basics just weren't good enough on that occasion. We got the job done in the end, but it was a close shave and we know we'll have to play to a higher level in the re-match this Friday."
With the quest for a quarter-final place coming to a head on Friday at Kingston Park, and Petrarca Padova now the last remaining hurdle for the Falcons, a fully focused Gopperth outlined the task ahead.
"It's still in our own hands, so from a team point of view we don't have a huge amount of stats or permutations complicating things," he said.
"Basically if we win the game we're through to the quarter-finals, and if we get a bonus point win we definitely have a home tie. It's all on us, we're not relying on anybody else and we have to put a bit of pressure on ourselves now to deliver. As long as everyone turns up and continues to take pride in their performance, then we'll back ourselves to beat anybody.
"There might be an urge to try and score off first-phase ball every time we get it and to start playing helter-skelter rugby, but what we need to do is just build the pressure, be patient, keep the ball and gradually break them down. Over in Albi we were guilty of going for the miracle offload far too often, whereas if we'd held on to the ball we probably would have scored from the third or fourth phase.
"The goal for us is to get one of the real Heineken Cup giants back to Kingston Park in the quarter-finals, which would be massive for the club and our supporters. The players would relish that opportunity, but we can't look beyond Petrarca Padova because there is a job still to be done here on Friday."
Finals Edition: Listen to the best guide to the European Rugby Cup Finals weekend in Dublin, which sees Leinster Rugby take on Stade Francais Paris at the RDS on Friday night in the Amlin Challenge Cup Final and then ASM Clermont Auvergne tackle Toulon in an all-French affair at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.