Richards: Falcons can build on battling qualities

Saturday 24 December 2016

Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards says his side can build on the effort levels shown at champions Saracens, as they prepare for back-to-back Aviva Premiership home games against Wasps and Bath.

Wasps are next up at Kingston Park Stadium on Friday December 30 (kick-off 7.45pm) before Bath visit on Friday January 6, Richards having seen plenty of positives in his side’s 21-6 loss at Allianz Park on Christmas Eve.

The Falcons boss said: “It was a huge effort from the players, and the thing for us now is to take that with us when we host Wasps on Friday.

“I was asked before the game if we had come down just to lose, and that is absolutely not the case. The boys came down to win, we pushed Saracens for 80 minutes and that’s the same approach we will adopt against Wasps and Bath over the next fortnight.”

Having been within losing bonus point range up until the last 12 minutes, Richards added: “The scoreline probably didn’t reflect the game but, having said that, when you get your chances you have to take them.

“We were disappointed to into half-time 13-6 down, and as a consequence we felt a little bit hard done to. There were a couple of times whereby we felt we were going over and it should have either been a penalty try or a yellow card, but we didn’t quite get the rub of the green.

“We possibly should have seen a yellow card for Saracens, and if the referee hadn’t been so impressionable then maybe we would have done. But at the same time he is a young lad, he is learning and it is what it is. I thought the decisions in the second half were a little bit more equal, and you could understand where he was coming from.”

Crediting a number of his bench men in a full-blooded squad showing, the former England and Lions No 8 said: “I was pleased with the guys who came on. I think Ben Sowrey acquitted himself well, as did Opeti Fonua, and the boys did a good job overall. They kept on going right to the end, but on some occasions we just didn’t have the accuracy to turn pressure into points.

“It is difficult to criticise the players because they put in a massive shift against one of the best defences in the country. Sometimes it goes for you and sometimes it doesn’t, but it was never going to be easy against Saracens. You have to be at 100% when you play against them and everything has to go for you, even if we felt we should have come away with more than we did in the end.”

Ending the first half of the season with the same number of league wins they managed over the entirety of the last campaign, Richards added: “If you ask the players whether or not they are content with where they are in the league the answer is no, they are absolutely not.

“We probably should have beaten Leicester and Worcester this season but it is about taking your opportunities, and we didn’t on those occasions. We are not happy, no, but at the same time we will just look at ourselves and continue to improve.”

Tickets for the Falcons’ next home game against Wasps on Friday December 30 are available by clicking here.

This game forms part of the half-season ticket membership package. To book your half-season ticket, click here.

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