Will Haydon-Wood scoring the Falcons' first try

Richards praises Falcons' effort in defeat

Sunday 20 February 2022

Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards hailed his homegrown heroes despite missing out on the win as Exeter Chiefs battled to a 15-14 victory on Sunday at Kingston Park Stadium.

A late penalty from Joe Simmonds prevented the Falcons from completing a home-and-away double over the Devon side, with Newcastle playing three quarters of the game a man down following Callum Chick’s sending off.

Speaking after the game, Richards said: “We had 17 boys in our match-day 23 today who have come through our academy, and 21 English-qualified players in our 23.

“Those are incredible numbers, and it means a lot to us. They put plenty into the game, and a massive part of what we’re doing here is building it around homegrown players.

“They really fought for each other today, I also thought our supporters were magnificent in getting behind them, and despite the disappointment of the result there was plenty there for us to build on.”

Talking about the game’s key decision, when Chick was shown a straight red for a high tackle on Josh Hodge, Richards said: “Josh clearly dropped his height.

“One of the issues we’re having at the moment is they’re trying to get to a really quick decision, rather than the correct decision. I would have accepted a yellow card, but you can’t make such a critical decision in such a big game as this, as quickly as they did. I thought it was really poor from them.

“You need to take the time to make the decision correctly, but they don’t want to spend time on TMO decisions. When you’re playing with people’s livelihoods and careers, you can’t do that, and they were barking up the wrong tree. They just haven’t got it right at the moment, and it’s all about the speed of the decision rather than getting it right.”

Asked if that decision had been the difference, the Falcons boss replied: “We’d just scored, and then we have to play an hour with one man less than the opposition. So yes, it did make a difference.

“We took a winger off and put a forward on, and it just limits what you can do – either having one man less in the scrum or one less in the backs.

“That said, I want to pay tribute to the players, who I thought put in an incredible effort.

“There were some very strange decisions out there which we’re not happy about, but in terms of what the players delivered, I thought they were excellent.”

Newcastle Falcons’ next home game is on Saturday February 26 when Bath visit Kingston Park Stadium.

Click here to buy tickets for the 3pm kick-off.

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