Falcons Director of Rugby Dean Richards admitted he was disappointed to come away from Devon empty-handed as his Newcastle Falcons side pushed Exeter Chiefs all the way in Saturday's 32-17 defeat.
The sides were level 3-3 at the midway point of a game which came to life after the break, Richards saying: “The players are disappointed with the end result. I thought we deserved a little bit more out of it, but there you go.
“This week was an improvement on the previous two games, it is a bit galling to come away with nothing but next week is another game and nothing changes in that respect.”
Mike Delany played almost a full game in his first appearance after more than three months on the sidelines, the Director of Rugby hailing the contribution of his Kiwi Fly Half as well as fit-again wing Sinoti Sinoti.
Richards said: “We knew that Mike and Sinoti were going to struggle a little but from a fitness point of view. But they are both quality players and it is a shame they have been missing from the Premiership for as long as they have been.
“Mike played 77 minutes, which was more than we were expecting to get out of him and probably more than he thought he was capable of. He was outstanding, I thought he played really well.”
Lock Mouritz Botha was among the players coming in for praise after a committed showing from the former England man, Richards saying: “Mo acquitted himself incredibly well in the second row. He really put himself about and I was delighted with the way he played.
“The whole of the pack I thought were outstanding on the day. Some of the hits that were put in were absolutely massive, and there were some great dominant tackles which I was really happy with.
“We lost our shape defensively a couple of times down the short-side which caused us a problem, but once we got used to that threat we coped with it really well.
“A couple of silly penalties here and there cost us dear, and then our lack of accuracy compounded that.
“Defensively the boys put everything into it. We just had to make sure we got on the ball, because when we did we scored a few tries.
“The disappointing thing for us was that we conceded a couple of really soft ones, and when that happens it comes back to hurt you.
“Exeter held onto the ball a little bit better than we did, they came away with the result and we needed to show the kind of accuracy in attack that we showed in defence.”