Falcons are back in the Euro frame, says Richards

Sunday 23 October 2016

Dean Richards believes his Newcastle Falcons side are back in with a shout of European Challenge Cup progression following Sunday’s 50-7 home triumph over Grenoble.

Welsh side Ospreys top the pool with a perfect 10 points from 10, but the Falcons moved up to second in the table following Sunday’s Kingston Park rout.

Richards, a former Grenoble coach himself, said: “The group is still wide open, as we said from the start.

“We gave lads an opportunity to get game time down at Ospreys, but today was all about winning well. We managed to do that, and we knew if we did that we’d manage to keep the group alive. There is everything to play for.”

The director of rugby added: “Grenoble are a good team on paper, even if they are languishing near the bottom of the Top 14.

“They made a number of line-breaks, but we probably converted ours better than they did. One of the things we had said the last few weeks was that we have had a lot of opportunities but not always taken them. Today was all about doing that.

“Sometimes we had to check ourselves and restart, and the lads are learning. Overall I was pleased.”

Always on the look-out for further improvements, Richards added: “We came in at half-time and said ‘why aren’t we winning by 40 points instead of 28’?

“In essence we should have been with the amount of opportunities we created. We talk about being clinical, and that means doing it for 80 minutes. The good thing was that we kept it going after the break, and it wasn’t a case of only playing in the first half again.

“The usual suspects played well, your Mark Wilsons and your Will Welches. I thought Tane Takulua at scrum-half had a good game, and Joel Hodgson showed why we think so highly of him. Craig Willis when he came on opened things up with two ball-players on the field in him and Joel, and it makes a big difference.”

Preparing to move back into Aviva Premiership mode on Sunday at Wasps, the Newcastle boss said: “Wasps away is an incredibly difficult game.

“They and Saracens are the two form sides in the division, it is going to be hard down there but if we play with the same intensity as we did today, fingers crossed it will work out.”

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