MAX Lahiff says he and his Bath team-mates have a score to settle in the North East this evening.

Opponents Newcastle Falcons grabbed two tries in the final 15 minutes to clinch an unlikely 33-32 win when the two clubs met at the Rec in the reverse Aviva Premiership fixture in September.

In many ways it was a result that helped set the tone for an inconsistent campaign to date for the blue, black and whites, coming in the same month as victories over Leicester and Saracens and followed immediately by a success away to Wasps.

Yet Bath remain firmly in the hunt for a top-four finish and can put a serious dent in the hopes of one of their closest rivals if they prevail at Kingston Park – a task, prop Lahiff admits, will be far from straightforward.

“We had our pants pulled down by them at our place and they are a mustard team – a really good outfit,” said Lahiff. “They have a mean back three, centres who pull the strings and a lot of tough, flinty blokes up front.

“I’d always expect conditions that far north at this time of year to be tricky too but we’re looking forward to a great contest.

“Games like the one we lost to them at home can be key and it all adds up. Losing at a time like that, when we were having a good spell, has consequences and can go a lot further than league points. It can have an impact on other games.

“We’ll use it as a tool to motivate us. If you can motivate yourself emotionally then it helps a lot in rugby.”

Despite the up-and-down nature of Bath’s season, a 32-9 victory at home to Northampton Saints a week ago was their fifth win in six outings and offered a sign that the corner is being turned by Todd Blackadder’s side.

“We want to capitalise on our good form at the moment,” added Lahiff.

“Winning is a habitual act. It becomes addictive and helps build a sense of self and purpose.

“Enjoyment is key in an impact sport and you need to have that in a long season of 30-odd games, when the goal is a final at Twickenham.”

Last Friday’s match also saw Lahiff reclaim the number three jersey from Henry Thomas for his first start since the European Champions Cup double-header with Toulon in December.

On a personal level 2017-18 has been difficult for the 27-year-old, who returned to match fitness in November having spent seven months on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

Lahiff said: “It’s been frustrating but also an invaluable experience. It was the first long-term injury I’d had and then Henry got his hands on the shirt.

“I’m still a bit rusty but Friday was good and I want to get my form going now.”