Newcastle Falcons boss Dean Richards admitted he was disappointed to have come away from Aviva Premiership champions Exeter Chiefs with only a four-try bonus point from a 34-24 defeat.
Vereniki Goneva’s 76th minute try ensured the Falcons didn’t leave Devon entirely empty-handed, their director of rugby saying: “We sat down in the changing room to talk about it and the overriding sense was one of frustration.
“We were inaccurate at times, we didn’t stick to script and as a result we gave them a huge amount of opportunities – especially in the first half.
“It was a bit of an odd game because you come here expecting the ball-in-play time to be right up there, normally about 45-47 minutes, but it was quite low today. That’s a bit strange for an Exeter game and we felt there was more out there for us.”
Having seen both DTH van der Merwe and Juan Pablo Socino sent to the sin bon during the second half, Richards said: “We stretched ourselves with the sin-binnings.
“The understanding of how to defend a driving maul is not difficult and we practice it week in, week out, but we didn’t quite get it right today. That led to DTH’s sin-binning, and we also had Juan Pablo sin-binned for taking the ball in and allegedly leading with his elbow.
“I felt that was a bit harsh considering the amount of times people do go in with their elbow or their shoulder, and it was just highlighted because the guy stayed down. If his poor tackling technique causes someone to be sin-binned I think it’s a poor show, really.”
Summing up the day and his side’s season in general, the Falcons boss added: “People can we say we got a four-try bonus point and that it’s not a disaster, but truth be told I wanted that fifth try and a second bonus point. We had four minutes left to find it but showed a lack of accuracy, and that highlights where we are as a team at this moment in time.
“We started trying to offload too much and throwing loose ball away, and Exeter nearly scored as a result. That typifies the fact we’re young and inexperienced, but we’re getting there and are beginning to show it at times. We’re improving, but we’re not there yet.
“If at the start of the season you’d have offered me four wins from six and a bonus point away to the champions, I’d have taken it. At the same time the players and I share a disappointment about the way we played today, and the lack of sticking to script. I’m happy, but there’s far more to come from us and a lot of hard work required.”