Falcons Director of Rugby satisifed with progress so far but aware more to come from his charges.
Director of Rugby Dean Richards insists that performance was the main barometer of success in Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Rotherham Titans and that preparations for the new season remain on track.
The Falcons lost by a single point for the second time this summer as Rotherham Titans held out for a 21 – 22 win at Kingston Park however, Richards remained content with the afternoon’s work from his side.
“I am not bothered about the result in pre-season, although obviously I don't like losing, but games like today are all about trying things and preparing for the season.”
“I was akways going to be looking at performances, and understanding whether the boys are doing what we are asking them to and on the whole they did that, and things will open up for them if they can do that in other areas.
With that in mind, there were a number of performances that caught the eye at the weekend both by individuals and at particular areas of the game for the Director of Rugby.
“I thought that throughout, we scrummaged really well and that the line out was mostly effective. Simon Hammersley was outstanding at full-back and played really well, Uili (Kolo’afi) played really well and there is a huge amount more to come from him, while Juan (Socino) was also impressive in the centres.”
With the players playing for the first time on the brand new synthetic rugby pitch, the match gave the squad on opportunity to become better acquainted with their new surface with Richards finding a number of interesting points.
“Everybody thought that with it being a 3G pitch they would be able to play as much rugby as they wanted, but people tend to forget how slippy the ball can be in torrential rain. On occasions if it is tipping it down you have got to play the game down in their half.
“We talked about playing with a little bit of tempo, but understanding how to put tempo onto the ball is a slightly different thing. Quick tap penalties are not always what is wanted, and it is the ability to be able to raise the pace of the game.”
Whilst both sides were able to record three tries apiece, the Championship outfit were particularly impressive at the breakdown which Richards says is an area the Falcons will improve on in time.
“Rotherham were competitive at the breakdown, and when I spoke to their coaches about it afterwards they said a lot of that is down to the fact they train on a 3G pitch most of the time so as we train on it more and understand it a bit better, I think we can be more competitive at the breakdown.”
The Falcons final pre-season friendly takes place on Friday night when they take on Edinburgh in Hawick (kick off 19:45), before the start of the Aviva Premiership season at Leicester Tigers on September 6.