Dean Richards admitted his Newcastle Falcons side had won ugly in Friday’s 13-12 triumph at Sale Sharks, but was nonetheless pleased by the character shown to grind out a fourth successive Aviva Premiership victory for the first time in more than eight years.
A penalty try six minutes from time proved the difference, the director of rugby saying: “We stole the show in the final few minutes but probably didn’t deserve to win, given our lack of control and the number of errors we made.
“At the same time when you get your chance you’ve got to take it, and we converted the one try-scoring opportunity we had. Sale had a couple of chances in the first half and didn’t score, and we probably had that one chance all evening.
“To our credit, even in a poor game, the boys stuck at it. We went six points down, clawed our way back into it and gave ourselves a chance. A lot of other sides in those sorts of conditions probably wouldn’t have been able to do that, and we at least showed a lot of character to win a scrappy one.”
Proud of his side’s defensive zeal, Richards added: “John Wells has worked incredibly hard on our defence and we’ve only conceded a single try in two Aviva Premiership games now.
“He has put a tremendous level of detail into that work, and that detail is making a big difference. What did disappoint us was the lack of control we showed in attack, and we will look at that closely going into next weekend against Saracens.
“But I’m extremely delighted to have started the season with two wins, and Sale isn’t an easy place to come to.
“They were smarting from last week at Wasps so we knew they were going to come out hard, and they dominated a lot of the game in terms of territory and possession. We found a way back, took our only chance and we owe a lot to our line-out unit.
“Guys like Scott MacLeod and the players have put in a huge amount of work on things like reading the opposition, and it paid off. Our mauling game has been better this season, we have scored from it two weeks in a row and we’re making progress there.”
Moving 3,500 miles across the Atlantic Ocean for their next game as they tackle Saracens in Philadelphia on Saturday September 16, Richards is excited at the test which awaits his side at Talen Energy Stadium.
“If you can’t get up for a game against the European champions then you’re in the wrong job, regardless of where the game’s being played,” he said.
“They’ll have all their main boys playing, bar maybe one or two, and it will be a superb challenge for us. It should be a great experience.”