Falcons Skills Coach and Academy Manager Mark Laycock gives his thoughts on the team's European Rugby Challenge Cup victory over Brive.
Mark Laycock admitted to mixed feelings as Newcastle Falcons snatched a dramatic late win over Brive but missed out on a European Challenge Cup quarter-final.
Simon Hammersley's try five minutes from time sealed a memorable 27-23 home victory, preserving their perfect group record at Kingston Park Stadium, but it was not enough to book them a spot in the last eight as Connacht went through as pool winners.
The skills coach said: “It is frustrating not to have gone through on the back of losing last week in Russia but we have a big ten week block coming up in the Premiership, and that has got to be our focus.
“We have had three wins on the bounce at Kingston Park and we have got to continue to make this a difficult ground for people to play at, as well as challenging teams when we play them on the road.”
Having watched his team race into a 22-3 half time lead, he said: “Brive didn't play how we expected them to play in the first half. They moved the ball around quite a lot and almost shot themselves in the foot.
“When it came to the second half they really upped the tempo. We could hear them screaming at half time, and fair play to them because they really put us under some pressure.”
Going a point down in a gripping climax to the game, Laycock said: “We got a couple of scores up, which was brilliant, and at half-time we were fairly comfortable that we could kick on.
“During the first 20 minutes of the second half we did not have a lot of the ball to play with and we were under a lot of pressure. Ultimately it required a lot of composure to come back and sneak it.
“You can never tell with French teams. They have got that flair about them and an ambition to play. I think they showed that early on and it actually worked in our favour, because we were able to capitalise on their handling errors.”
On Hammersley's winner, he said: “In some respects the winning try was against the run of play. We couldn't actually see it from where we were, but fair play to him. He has got bags of talent, he has really matured physically this year and in terms of understanding how we want to play as a team. He is a big asset to have.
“Even after that try we still had five minutes to get the ball back and get ourselves into a good position, but we did it.
“We did really well to repel Brive, and when it came to the finish the boys knew what was expected. They stuck to that task really well.”
Following the game Laycock also spoke with Falcons TV about the involvement of 13 club academy products in the Falcons' match day 23 for today's game. Check back tomorrow for that interview.
Newcastle Falcons are next in action a week tomorrow when Harlequins arrive at Kingston Park Stadium for their round 10 Aviva Premiership encounter. To buy tickets for that game click here.