Dean Richards praised his Newcastle Falcons battlers as they rallied to reach the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals on Saturday at Liberty Stadium.
Trailing Ospreys 14-0 at the quarter mark but earning a 28-24 triumph, the director of rugby said: “We gave the Ospreys a little too much respect in the first 20 minutes, and Justin Tipuric had an absolute field day during that period.
“After that we decided to put our heads where it hurt for the remainder of the game, and really take it to them.
“The final ten minutes of the first half and the opening five of the second half saw us totally dominant, resulting in two yellow cards and three tries, and we kicked on from there.”
Newcastle scored tries through Trevor Davison, Sean Robinson and Philip van der Walt as well as registering a penalty try, Richards saying: “I was happy that we scored four tries even though there are obviously no bonus points in the knockout phase, and we needed them all in the end.
“I was also pleased that we understood how to play when they went down to 14 and 13 men, and we were able to exploit that.
“It went some way to making up my disappointment at the opening 20 minutes where we just sat back and waited for them, which we clearly shouldn’t have done.”
Asked the reason why his side had started slowly, the Falcons boss replied: “They had six or seven Welsh international boys coming back, and I think maybe we subconsciously just gave them too much respect during that opening spell.
“Sometimes people are just a little bit in awe, and there’s no need to be, because I think we’ve got some really good players who are incredibly competitive against these guys.
“They showed today exactly why they’re competitive, and I hope they can take some belief from in knowing they can do it against boys like that. There’s no reason why we can’t do it on a more regular basis, and maybe today is the catalyst for that belief to take a real hold.”
Determined to push on in the tournament after reaching next weekend’s quarter-finals, Richards said: “The European Challenge Cup is an important competition for us, and you know me – I just want us to go as far as possible.
“We’ll have another good test next weekend, and we’ll be giving it everything.”