Director of rugby Dean Richards admitted his Newcastle side had received a deserved wake-up call following Saturday’s 58-5 drubbing at Bath.
The Falcons boss said after the eight-try loss: “We are a far better side than we showed today. We went unbeaten all the way through pre-season, which we haven’t done before, we started with a win in the league and we came down to Bath on a little bit of a high. We probably had the wake-up call we deserved and we know Leicester at home on Sunday will be another tough one.
“It’s going to be a difficult week in training, but I thought we did reasonably well against Sale in our opener. Even at Bath we were only 6-0 down after half an hour, we were in the game, and although the penalty try decision was the wrong one we just have to react better.”
The decision in question saw Vereniki Goneva sent to the sin bin after half an hour, referee Ian Tempest awarding a penalty try before Bath added a further three touchdowns during Goneva’s absence.
Richards said: “The penalty try and the sin-binning totally changed the complexion of the game. They scored three tries when Niki was off the field and George Ford for Bath took full advantage. You have to give him enormous credit for that, it was as complete a fly-half performance as I have ever seen, and whoever gave Dave Attwood man of the match must have been watching a different game.
“Ford was by far the best player on the field. The first thing he did after Niki’s sin-binning was that little chip across – he knew exactly what to do and he totally controlled the game.
“That penalty try changed the way the game went. We felt at the time that Niki was taken out, and even though he did hit the ball out with his hand the first offence should have been the fact he was taken out prior to that.
“We don’t have all the angles that the video referee has so we will have to have a look at it, but to capitulate in the manner we did was very poor indeed. Our inability to be able to react to it wasn’t great, and we have to take it on the chin. You go one try down, fair enough, but you have got to sort it out from there."
The Falcons boss added: “Even when we had nothing to lose in the second half it took us until the last few minutes to break them down.
“We had opportunities, we didn’t take them, and it was incredibly disappointing. We have to accept what we were given in the first half, we know we didn’t play well then, but you have to salvage something out of it. The fact that we failed to do so was incredibly disappointing.”