Reaction: Richards targets Ealing improvement

Saturday 7 November 2020

Director of rugby Dean Richards insisted Saturday’s 38-17 loss at Ealing was a good one to get out of the way as both sides blew away the cobwebs following eight months without a game.

The two teams will do it all again in Newcastle on Friday, Richards saying: “It was good to finally get a proper hit-out, to understand where our weaknesses are and what we need to work on.

“Having Wayne Barnes as referee was really useful for us from a learning perspective, and there’s plenty we can take from it into our preparation for the season.”

Mark Tampin and Sam Stuart crossed for the Falcons’ tries in a physical and competitive encounter, one which Richards believes will still prove to be a valuable building block despite the disappointment of defeat.

“The result didn’t go our way, but I’m not bothered about the result in pre-season games,” said the Newcastle boss.

“It’s about the accuracy and endeavour that you are able to put into it, and how it knits together to prepare you for the Premiership season.

“I won two European Cups and four Premiership titles with Leicester, and we hardly won a pre-season game during that time.

“It’s entirely about what you get out of it in relation to your preparation, and clearly we’ve got work to do in that regard.

“Our accuracy went awry at times, and full credit to Ealing. They controlled the game better than we did and their discipline was better, but it was a first hit-out for eight months and a case of getting used to the contact area again.

“Even considering all the improvements that we know we have to make, there were still some good performances.

“I thought Matty Ward came in as a teenager for his debut on the wing for the second half, and acquitted himself really well. We’re excited about him and a number of the other young boys, and Marco Fuser in the second row also put himself about on his debut.”

Determined for his side to produce a more cohesive effort during the re-match at Kingston Park Stadium, Richards said: “What you will see on Friday will be an altogether much more polished performance, and then going into the Bath game the weekend after it will be better again.

“It’s just nice to get the first game out of the way, and if you think back to when the Premiership re-started in August the first couple of rounds were dreadful. By the time you got to game three things were starting to click back into place, and it was a totally different thing.”

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