Falcons lead European Rugby Challenge Cup pool after opening two rounds
Director of Rugby Dean Richards was a happy man as his side travelled home from Newport on Saturday, following an outstanding performance saw the club seize the early initiative in Pool 3 of the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
Heading to Rodney Parade to face a Dragons side on a high after a 22 – 38 win over Stade Francais in Paris, a Falcons team blending experience and youth delivered a performance from the top draw to make it two wins from two in the competition and to delight the DOR.
Richards said: “That result really pleased me and I thought the young boys were fantastic today, Scotty MacLeod goes off, Will Witty comes on and does incredibly well, Will Welch comes off, Dan Temm comes on and does the same, Sean Robinson misses a tackle in midfield and thirty seconds later he’s winning a turnover, they were all absolutely fantastic.”
“Chris Harris ran himself into the ground, Tom Penny put in some big hits, Ruki Tipuna was great as were the whole team but the man of the match for me was Andy Saull, he was absolutely everywhere and put his body on the line and I thought he was absolutely fantastic on Friday.”
The victory gives the Falcons their fourth win in a row this season and also a sixth win in seven meetings against the Welsh region and Richards fulsome praise of the players, extends to the overall result.
“It was a great win and the lads put everything into it, if you were in the changing room after the match, there were some shattered bodies in there.”
“We looked at the result against Stade and we thought, that it was an outstanding result from Newport’s point of view and we knew it was going to be difficult. When you have a side with people like Byrne and Falotau it was always going to be a hard day in the office.”
“In the first half we were committing too many people to the breakdown which was taking one or two people out of the defensive line and I think we stood off them a little bit too much, which we had a chat about at half time and said that we just had to come out and take it to them.”
“We also decided just to throw one guy into the breakdown because we were comfortable with our defence, which meant that although Newport retained possession we would gain our rewards and turnovers if we were patient which is exactly what we did in the second half.”
With the club consciously using the competition as an outlet for its promising young talent to show case itself, the Director of Rugby says that they have done just that in the opening rounds of matches.
“There are some really good youngsters coming through and they are putting a shift in week in and week out and are really challenging the older boys and there’s big decisions to make going forward.”
“They are showing how professional they are and how much heart they have got, the train hard week in week out to earn the opportunity to play and it is an opportunity that the club and I will give them.”