Falcons academy coach happy to take five points away to Bucharest in Cluj
Academy coach James Ponton enjoyed being head coach for the day as his Newcastle Falcons side defeated Bucharest Wolves 52-10 to secure a European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final.
Leading 28-10 at the break and pushing on thereafter, Ponton said: “It was a great performance from the boys.”
“Things didn't go according to the plan all the time, but they did for 99% of it and the players went about their business in a very professional way.”
“We stuck to the plan we laid out, we didn't kick at goal and we knew that with time and pressure we could create opportunities. We managed to do that; some of them we took, and some we didn't.”
Having been handed the reins for what was a pivotal match, with a bonus point win required to make sure of progression to the last eight stage of the competition, Ponton relished the opportunity which he says is huge to his development as a coach.
“I was delighted to be handed the chance to work with the club's senior players and as a development exercise it has been absolutely fantastic. It is all part of the club’s policy of empowering their staff.”
“For my development it is huge, and from Dean Richards' angle he also uses it as a way of freshening up the players. It is a different voice for them, and I have a different approach to the other coaches. I hope the lads enjoyed that.
“The former flanker added: “If I am totally honest a year ago I would not have been comfortable doing it, but I know the players better now and what is going on with the first team.”
“The experience of being with the first team is very different from the academy, and it is good for my development to be able to get a taste of that. Wrapping up the crucial four-try bonus point inside 34 minutes in Cluj, Ponton said: “The message was really just to look at the bigger picture rather than taking this game as a one-off.
“It was about the team being professional and having that level of consistency. Over time we will get better and better at that.
“Andy Davies rounded it off with a good team try at the end, and we worked really hard for that. I was pleased for him to get the try, and for the team as a whole that it came off. “The players were switched-on and knew they needed to be better than last week. It is great to be in a European quarter-final, and we deserved it.”