Dean Richards insists Newcastle Falcons were full value for their 19-14 victory over Bath, Saturday's Aviva Premiership triumph coming via a Rob Vickers try and the boot of fly-half Craig Willis.
The Director of Rugby, whose team led 13-8 at half-time, said: “I thought we deserved it. We missed a few points with the boot but it was almost irrelevant in the end. We defended extremely well. At times in the second half when Bath had the wind behind them they put a lot of pressure on us, but we dealt well with it and came out with the goods.”
Guy Mercer's early try put Newcastle five points down, Richards saying: “They scored an early try when we were a little bit asleep. We should have taken the points earlier on, and one mistake led to another in putting us down in our own half. They scored from the line out but it was the only real chance they had.
“Bath are a good side and we always knew they were going to test us. They are a quality outfit with bags of talent, and whichever side they put out it was always going to be a challenge.
“At half time we said just to carry on with what we were doing. There were a couple of things we needed to work on, and we did. The boys stuck to the game plan, and that was probably the first time this season we have really done that. It shows that it works.”
Having never lost belief that things would come together, the Falcons' boss explained: “I've said all along the first four weeks of the season were going to be difficult with the injuries we had and guys coming back from the World Cup.
“We've done reasonably well in Europe and played some good stuff at times down in Leicester. Our game has been in reasonable shape without converting it into league wins, but we have now managed to do that.
“We kicked the ball in the second half and some of the crowd were wondering why. On days like this with the weather that bad sometimes you just don't want it in those areas, but overall the supporters were happy and they made it a fantastic atmosphere. It was great to get more than 7,000 in, and they made a big difference.”
Paying tribute to Willis for holding his nerve at Fly Half, Richards said: “I didn't think Craig had done too badly down at Leicester. He shows his naivety at times but he is getting there, and I've been really pleased with him.
“With the penalty at the end we just wanted to make sure that if the ball bounced back off the crossbar or anything that we had it covered, but as soon as it went through it was happy days with a lot of handshaking going on.”
Already turning attention to Sunday's trip to the Madejski Stadium, he added: “As coaches we are already looking to the next game, and the confidence we can take to London Irish.
“Over the last three or four weeks we've played really well without getting the league win, but today we did.
“I have said all along that the ten week spell after the next European block will be the critical period of the season, and whatever happens next weekend is almost irrelevant. Having said that, as I said before the Bath game, these matches we want to go out and win.”
For more post-match thoughts from Dean Richards click here.