Dean Richards hailed his Newcastle Falcons charges after they sealed their Aviva Premiership status for next season after picking up two bonus points at London Wasps, while Worcester Warriors’ relegation was confirmed with a 44-20 defeat at Saracens.
Richards’ side crossed the whitewash five times during an 11 try feast against London Wasps at Adams Park in which the hosts came out on top 44-38 in delicious conditions.
And whilst the Falcons boss admits there was an air of relief at the full-time whistle, Richards was quick to turn his attention to preparations for next season.
“Securing our Premiership name for next season with one week to spare allows us more time than what we had last year to get ourselves ready for the new campaign so it will be a lot better in that respect,” said Richards, who has already begun the rebuilding process at Kingston Park with no fewer than six new signings arriving on Tyneside in the summer.
He added: “I suppose it’s a relief in some ways that we have avoided going down, but you never look at it in those terms. You look at yesterday’s game, and I told the boys beforehand that I didn’t want to know the score at Allianz Park as it’s irrelevant, and it’s about how we play on the day, but you could say there was a sigh of relief at the end of the game.”
With the permutations made abundantly clear throughout the week in the media regarding Worcester and Newcastle’s fate, Richards’ men knew that a win over Wasps would cancel out a Warriors win and confirm their safety.
Newcastle came out all guns blazing against Dai Young’s outfit, and were 17-0 up inside the first quarter courtesy of tries from Mike Blair and Joel Hodgson. And despite Wasps’ hitting back with a series of tries to take the lead before the break, the Falcons continued the try-scoring habit in the second period including George McGuigan’s touch down with last act which ultimately snapped up two points for the northeasterners.
“I thought there was some outstanding rugby on show from both sides, but I think the defence coaches will look at it slightly differently,” said Richards.
“Our boys played exceptionally well – Mike Blair orchestrated a lot of the good stuff that we did, I thought Joel had his best game in a long time, James Fitzpatrick was outstanding and Gonzalo Tiesi was a rock in the backline, but overall I thought everyone from one to 15 played extremely well,” added Richards.
Reflecting on Newcastle’s first season back in the big time, the Falcons chief said: “Looking at the season as a whole there are points that we should have picked up in a series of matches and we need to learn from those games.
“But given the circumstances of the way in which we were promoted back to the Premiership, we have to be relatively satisfied with how things have gone. Last season was a bit of a marathon with not only the regular season to contend with, but the end of season play-offs too. The length of the season hampered our preparations for the Premiership as it gave us less time to prepare the lads from a conditioning point of view and less time to bring in new additions to the squad.
“In that respect to stay up with a week to go is a job well done, although I really want a lot more wins and that side of things has been frustrating if anything.”
Newcastle host Exeter Chiefs next Saturday in their final match of the season with tickets still available by calling the Falcons Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060 or click here to purchase online.