Coach Mark Laycock saluted the never-say-die spirit of his Newcastle Falcons side as they finished second in the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s in Northampton on Saturday.
Beaten 31-12 by holders and pre-tournament favourites Wasps in the final, the Falcons could look back on a day of drama after a golden-point semi-final victory over Harlequins and a 28-24 quarter-final thriller against Worcester Warriors.
Laycock, the first team skills coach and academy manager, said: “It was a fantastic occasion and a great experience for our lads, and they improved as the tournament went on.
“We are a very tight-knit bunch and the lads did themselves proud by making the final – it’s a shame we just couldn’t overcome that final hurdle against a very strong Wasps side.”
Praising the attitude of his squad, he said: “We showed true doggedness and a collective work ethic to support one another – especially in the semi-final. We were scrambling big-time and guys were showing guts to get back to make that try-saving tackle when their bodies were probably telling them otherwise.
“They battled for each other every minute of every game, and you can’t always say that about a team. We had good balance on top of that, and as we got more used to each other we started to show more of what we are really about.”
Crediting Wasps on their victory, Laycock said: “It was a similar score to when we played them in the group game, and they capitalised on a couple of mistakes. That was the game, and that’s the learning that we need to take into the Aviva Premiership season if we want to push into the top four.
“If we can tidy up those errors we can be in the contest for a full match, rather than just the first half.”
Confident his side’s sevens exploits can provide a springboard into the 15-a-side season, he added: “We can take a huge amount from this experience and the boys are absolutely buzzing.
“They’re a very humble group and they will quietly take the positives from it, and hopefully it will kickstart our season looking towards the double-header against Doncaster and Nottingham on August 12 at Kingston Park.”
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