Mark Laycock says his Newcastle Falcons side learned plenty from Saturday’s 21-8 Anglo-Welsh Cup loss at Bath, and that it is all still to play for as they home in on a semi-final spot.
The Falcons are tied with Leicester Tigers going into next weekend’s last round of group games, Newcastle hosting Gloucester on Saturday with Leicester travelling to Wasps the day after.
Shipping three second-half tries after being 0-0 at the Rec, the academy manager and first team skills coach said: “We stuck to our game plan and showed a huge amount of endeavour, but we needed to have put some points on the board during the first half.
“We’re very frustrated because it was a 98% performance, but that missing 2% is the difference at this level.
“We were pleased with a lot of what we did in the first half, we defended fantastically and knocked them back from our five-metre line to about 35 metres out. We were creating line-breaks in attack and supporting them, but it was that last little push to get it over the try-line where we were just short.
“We will keep working on that and look to rectify it for Gloucester next week, because it’s tight at the top of the pool and we know we have to do well to qualify.”
Battling away in rainy conditions, Laycock added: “The longer the game went on the more of a foot-hold Bath gave themselves, and when the rain became a bit heavier they were more pragmatic in terms of how they approached it.
“We felt we’d weathered the storm but then Bath managed to score from that four or five-minute period of ball-in-play, which was a pivotal moment, as was the part where Ally Hogg got pulled back for a forward pass. On another day that might not have been given but I’m not going to criticise the officials because they’re integral to the game, and we need them. But those moments do have a big impact, and we all have our opinions on them.”
Philosophical about the day’s events, Laycock said: “Up until the last six or seven minutes the game could have swung either way, and we backed ourselves to play and take them on. Unfortunately we just came out of it on the wrong side and we have to take it on the chin.
“For the young guys in the squad there is some fantastic learning they can take from this, and we produced a lot of good stuff. We just need to be a bit better when it comes to turning pressure into points and it’s certainly all to play for next weekend at home to Gloucester, considering we’re level on points with Leicester at the top of the group.”
Newcastle’s home game with Gloucester is a 3pm kick-off on Saturday February 3. To book your tickets click here or call 0871 226 6060.