Dean Richards highlighted the positive contribution of Newcastle Falcons’ younger players despite saying naivety played its part in Saturday’s 29-18 Anglo-Welsh Cup loss at Saracens.
Tries from Opeti Fonua and Santiago Socino, plus the boot of Brett Connon, had the visitors in contention against a Saracens side who scored three second-half tries via the driving maul to close out the result.
Speaking afterwards, the director of rugby said: “There is a little bit of disappointment, although I was happy with a lot of what we did.
“In the first half we stuck to our guns, and had we don that during the second half it could have worked for us and we might have been sat here talking about a different thing altogether.
“I was delighted with a number of the performances out there today, and to be honest it was a lot of the younger boys who turned it in. People like Joshua Chisanga, Joel Hodgson, Harrison Orr, Craig Willis and Sam Egerton played really well, and that was very pleasing to see.”
Asked about the ball-carrying attributes of Fonua and Chisanga, Richards said: “They give us some go-forward, which we have not had for a little while.
“Opeti got a little bang on the leg which is why we changed him at half-time. He was flagging slightly and we need to get him up to speed with his conditioning after his injury, but he does get us going forward. It was nice to see him and Josh out there, they are both good boys in that regard and likewise Harrison Orr when he came on. They played some good stuff.”
Referencing the manner in which holders Saracens recovered to find a victory in the final half-hour, the Falcons boss said: “If you look at Saracens, up until that last try the only time they breached our defensive line was through the driving maul. That says a lot, although it was disappointing from our end the amount of times they scored from that. A couple of people were sort of slacking in that aspect, and if we can sort that out we will be alright.
“Saracens didn’t move from the script in terms of the maul – they know what works for them and they do it very well. Everyone in their side sings from the same hymn sheet, we were a little naïve in terms of how we defended it and some of the boys got a little bit loose in that. Had we stuck to script it could have been different.
“In the second half we want off-page for some reason, and that is the discipline you need at this level. It is our understanding of why the game is opening up for you, and what you need to do to keep it opening up. If you keep on doing the same things it will open up more often, but we didn’t have the patience to do it.”
The Falcons are next in action on Friday when Kingston Park Stadium hosts the ‘Big Night Oot’ against Exeter Chiefs. Tickets for the 8pm Aviva Premiership kick-off are available by calling 0871 226 6060 or clicking here.