Dean Richards praised the professionalism of his Newcastle Falcons side after Sunday’s 64-7 victory over Enisei-STM sent them through to the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup.
The ten-try Kingston Park rout was built on a foundation of solid defence and a ruthless ability to take their chances, the director of rugby saying: “Defensively we were sound, we made quite a few changes towards the end but the boys who came on stuck to script and we did the job we needed.
“Enisei gave a good account of themselves in Bordeaux and at the Dragons so we were a little nervous going into it, and we know they’ll be a totally different beast next week over in Georgia.
“They’re a good team and we know they’ll be disappointed about today, but we showed them a huge amount of respect because we knew we’d have to be on our game.
“That’s seven wins in a row now and the boys are getting into the habit. It’s difficult to break a team when you have that mentality, and the expectations every day in training are rising. Those increased standards are at the heart of our improved results, and it’s very pleasing to see that progression.”
Wrapping up the four-try bonus point before half-time, the afternoon saw a milestone towards the end when evergreen prop Rob Vickers came on from the bench to make his 250th appearance for the club.
Richards said: “Bobby is just incredible, and even when we asked him to come on at wing-forward he just got on with it.
“That will be a nice moment for his scrapbook, getting the 250 and playing in the back row, but you couldn’t wish it on a nicer bloke and he’s a great player for this club. He’s unbelievable as a guy, he’s a total model professional and he just does it week in, week out.”
Centre Tom Penny scored the first try of the day after just 44 seconds, going on to be named man of the match after an all-action showing.
Richards said: “Tom is one of those boys who just puts his body on the line every single time he plays, and that’s what you want as a coach. He doesn’t hold back, he goes full throttle every time and I was delighted for him getting man of the match.”
Penny, himself, said: “We set our what we wanted to do with this game and the coaches put their trust in the players to do it.
“It was nice to win in such a convincing way and to make sure we’re in the quarter-finals, we were up against a big physical outfit and we knew we would be in for a tough game. The key was to stick to our processes and nail our chances when they came, which we did.”