Richards lauds Falcons' spirit

Saturday 2 October 2021

Dean Richards hailed the never-say-die spirit of his Newcastle Falcons side as a last-minute try from England’s Callum Chick earned them an 18-14 home victory over Wasps.

The director of rugby said after a thrilling Gallagher Premiership clash: “I’ve said it before – you can have your 55-25 scorelines, but give me a high-intensity 18-14 like that and I don’t think you could ask for any more.

“Everyone who came here today will have gone home entertained, even though there were only 32 points scored. We’ve got to be careful we don’t turn rugby into basketball, and if we can deliver intensity and drama like this every week then people will come.”

Asked about the character and spirit shown by his side, having battled with 14 men for 25 minutes following Tom Penny’s sending off, the Falcons boss said: “What a comeback – it was a great climax to the game and I thought our crowd were just brilliant.

“I’ve said for many years there’s no better atmosphere than Kingston Park when the fans get involved as they did today, and I just want to say thank you to them from every member of the playing and coaching group. The way they got behind the players was just incredible.

“We were playing into the wind a man down, and had the ball on our own 22. It was an incredible run by George Wacokecoke and great support play from the lads, plus a brilliant finish from Chicky.

“To score that try in the manner in which we did - it truly shows the character of this side.

“Chicky was outstanding, I thought Will Welch was as well yet again, Philip van der Walt was everywhere, the entire front row fought and fought all day and also Louis Schreuder at scrum-half played a massive part.

“We were playing into a strong wind in that second half, and for us to come back and sneak it I thought was outstanding.”

Asked about the incident which saw Penny receiving a red card following a tangle at a ruck near the Wasps try-line, Richards said: “Tom is distraught in the changing room because he didn’t think anything was deliberate.

“His leg was trapped in by Jimmy Gopperth, and you’ve got to look at who the instigator of the whole thing was. Tom tried to release his leg three times and couldn’t, as he’s stumbling away and breaking free he pushes his face and catches I think his eye. Jimmy makes a meal of it, and if there is contact with the eye then so be it.

“It wasn’t deliberate, and you have to look at who the protagonist is. It’s clearly Jimmy Gopperth, and why should our boy get penalised for being held in at a ruck?

“It’s the same official we had against Wasps last year when he missed the Josh Bassett incident, and he wasn’t going to miss anything today. We were expecting a little bit of something today, and I’m surprised the refereeing department put him on this game if I’m totally honest about it.”

Delighted by how his team battled back as they now prepare to face Saracens on Saturday, Richards added: “The whole team seems to have stepped forward, they’ve matured as a group and there were times today when Will Welch as our captain really controlled the chaos.

“He got the group together when things looked to be going against us, and his leadership and guidance just gave the boys the courage and confidence to do it.

“We’ve got Saracens away next weekend now – a very difficult side to beat – and it’s a great challenge for us.”

Newcastle Falcons’ next home game is against Bristol Bears on Saturday October 16. Click here to book tickets for the 3pm kick-off.

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