Director of rugby Dean Richards had mixed feelings after Newcastle Falcons’ 19-14 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol on Saturday.
A fired-up Falcons side raced into a 19-0 half-time lead after a storming start, and ended the day in the top half of the table after winning half of their six league games. But having almost let a convincing advantage slip during the second half, Richards admitted: “It was the proverbial game of two halves.
“We played so well in the first half, scored three tries and should have scored another two or three. That would have given us more of a cushion but at 19-0 up at half-time the boys just took their foot off the gas a little bit.”
The Falcons’ boss added: “The injuries also told, having to reorganise the back line after Alex Tait and Dom Waldouck went off so early. It did cause us problems, but we still shouldn’t have dropped off the way we did.
“We played exceptionally well for 40 minutes and the three tries we scored were well worked. In essence Bristol only had two chances and they took them both, which put us under pressure at the end.
“Our kicking game went off a little bit, and that was probably the root cause of our problems. Bristol started to dominate territory as a result, our accuracy at times wasn’t quite there and we also missed eight or so points with the boot. That would have made a difference.”
Having to endure another nail-biting finish, Richards said: “Bristol had a chance to counter with three minutes left and they kicked it. At that point I felt we’d won the game, it was a bit of an odd decision and when that happens you tend to think it’s in the bag. It was an odd game in many ways. It was one I never felt we’d lose, but actually we could have thrown away.”
Taking in the bigger picture, he added: “We’re in a good place, up to a point. We have played six, won three and taken two losing bonus points. We felt we should have beaten Leicester and Worcester, but we’re in the top half of the table and we would have taken that at the start of the season. Last year we hadn’t won a game by Christmas, but we’re a bit frustrated today and it was a very quiet changing room despite having won the game.”