Iwan Stephens on the attack

Laycock takes the learnings from Cup loss

Wednesday 30 March 2022

Mark Laycock says his Newcastle Falcons side will take the learnings from Wednesday’s Premiership Rugby Cup defeat at Northampton, despite the disappointment of bowing out of the competition.

The Falcons were beaten 34-26 at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens, after an end-to-end encounter which saw both sides registering four-try bonus points.

It was ultimately not enough for the Falcons to progress through to the semi-finals, with academy manager and first team skills coach Laycock saying: “The reality is we just gave ourselves too much of a mountain to climb.

“Coming into the game we knew what we needed to do, but we made hard work of it during the first half. The penalty-count was something like 9-1 against us after half an hour, although I thought the way we responded in the second half was really commendable.

“Had we converted a few more of the chances we created it would have been a different outcome, but you’ve got to be ruthless at this level.”

With the game forming the middle of three away matches in the space of just eight days, the squad’s resources had been stretched to the limit.

“I want to give a big shout to the guest players who came in for us tonight, because I thought they put in a great effort with very little preparation time,” said Laycock.

“Ben Douglas is still at school and he came on for his first team debut, as did the Newcastle University pair Arinze Okemuo and George Bennett-Teare. They certainly didn’t let themselves or the team down, and all those guys put in a big shift when they came on.

“There were a lot of positives despite the result, and the boys stuck together. We had a really young side on the field at the end there, and it shows our future is in good hands.”

Taking the positives, he added: “We can point to the fact it’s a great development experience, which it is, but the reality is we want to be winning games.

“I’m never going to be satisfied getting beat and being knocked out of the competition, but within those parameters it has definitely been a great learning opportunity.

“That’s as true for the coaches and support staff as it is for the players, and as well as myself and James Ponton getting experience of leading the first team we’ve also had our academy analyst Jack Hayes and our academy strength and conditioning coach Michael Ferguson stepping up.

“They will all have benefited from being in that first team environment, and then on the playing side there are obviously a lot of lads making their debuts or their first starts.

“Marcus Tiffen scored a good try on his debut, and in fairness the support play was so good we probably had three or four players could have scored that try. So yeah, it’s been useful from the development standpoint, notwithstanding the disappointment we all have at missing out on a semi-final place.”

Newcastle Falcons are next in home action on Saturday April 9 with a double bill of matches, taking on Heriot’s at 4.30pm and then Zebre Parma at 8pm in the EPCR Challenge Cup.

Both games are included in the season ticket membership package, with non-season ticket members able to book by clicking here.

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