Director of Rugby Dean Richards believes there are many positives to be taken from his team’s progress throughout the season so far.
At the outset of the 2013/14 season Director of Rugby Dean Richards laid out his plans for Newcastle Falcons; ambitious plans that would see the club build from season to season with the aim of playing Champions Cup rugby within the next five years.
The Falcons may currently sit at 11th in the Aviva Premiership, but with a string of impressive performances under their belts but Richards is certain the club are ahead of plan.
“At the start of the season a lot of people predicted that we would be the whipping boys but lots of teams now are fearing coming up here to play us now and in fact when we go away people are fearing us too.”
Having run a number of clubs in the top half of the table close over recent weeks, including a 23 all draw against sixth place Wasps last month, the Falcons are increasingly showing themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
The Director of Rugby continued: “People are fearing us because we’re playing a good brand of rugby but we’re just not quite there at the moment. When it does happen and it clicks though there will be a lot of sides who will be dreading coming here even more.
“People recognise that when that happens, those little bits of understanding how to win a game will drop into place and that’s something to be feared. There’s a bit of arrogance too that we’re lacking at the moment but that will come over time. “
One thing that has drawn great praise from around the rugby world and beyond is the Falcons’ new attacking style of rugby.
“Out of 13 games we’ve lost this year I think last weekend was the seventh that we’ve scored more tries than the opposition. It’s slightly frustrating when you score more tries and still go on to lose games but it’s just one of those things.
“The pitch has made a massive difference to the way in which we want to play and the shape that has been brought in by Dave Walder is great, so the pair complement each other.”
Another man who has caught attention across the league is Samoan winger Sinoti Sinoti, the Falcons’ top try scorer and a player who has been consistently named amongst the league’s top attackers throughout the season so far.
“Sinoti is great and the fans love watching him play. He tends to look at what’s in front of him and just go so you’re never quite sure what he’s going to do next.
“You tend to like that uncertainty and not knowing though, it certainly causes defences problems, and our second try on Sunday was a great try, probably one of the best of the season.”
Off the field too, the Falcons have made great strides throughout the season, with the average Kingston Park Stadium attendance up significantly on last term and Sunday’s game marking the club’s second near sell out crowd.
“Sunday was a great atmosphere, and those crowds really make a difference to the team . They’re seeing some great rugby out on the pitch too; the boys put their heart and soul into it every week and there’s no doubt about it, there’s a buzz around the team and they want to go out there and play for each other and for the fans.”
With just over two months of the season left to go, Richards recognises that there is still work to be done at Kingston Park.
“For us it’s now just about nailing our style, our shape and knowing full well that if we stick to how we want to play that we’ll score a lot of tries, and making sure we don’t concede as many points as we inflict on the opposition.
“But it’s a confidence thing and an understanding thing; we’re a young side and we’ve only been together for two and a half years and we’re getting closer to those things all the time. We’re playing a lovely brand of rugby but that’s not enough, so now we have to start getting these W’s on the board."