Dean Richards still found plenty of room for improvement despite his Newcastle Falcons side surging to a 31-13 victory at London Irish on Saturday.
Having trailed 6-0 after a scrappy opening quarter the Falcons recovered to win by five tries to one, with the director of rugby admitting: “It was frustrating more than anything.”
“We didn't play particularly well but we still scored five tries. There were some really good bits to take out of it and it is only right we acknowledge the good bits in our analysis, but equally you have got to do it for 80 minutes. Today we probably played for 20 minutes in this one, and that is generally not going to be enough.”
With Saturday’s win ensuring the team return to Premiership action on the back of a win, Richards wants his charges to take the experience from the game and reduce the number of turnovers.
“By half-time there had been 12 turnovers. We look for no more than that in an entire game, never mind a half, so we have to look at ourselves for pushing the game too much. We needed to play with the fluidity, patience and composure which we have been showing for much of the past two months, and we were frustrating ourselves by trying to do too much.”
“The boys understand they were rusty in places, but we still came away with the win that we wanted. We probably tried to play too much and gave too many 80-20 offloads.”
“When we limit that percentage we are really effective, but we made too many turnovers and we need to improve on that.”
Areas of improvement aside, the Falcons have continued to show an attacking flair when maximising their effectiveness and on Saturday, scored their sixth try bonus point in succession, though the Falcons' boss joked: “Please don't expect it every week!”
“We have got some hard games coming up and it is not always going to happen, but what it does mean is that our style and our shape is starting to come together. We are becoming effective but we need to do it in the big games, and Exeter away next weekend falls firmly into that category.”
Looking ahead to the trip to that game, after fielding effectively two separate teams in the last fortnight, Richards revealed that the performances of his players are providing him with food for thought when selecting his team for round 14 of the Aviva Premiership.
“There will be some big selection calls to make going into that game, without a doubt. A lot of guys against London Irish hadn't played for a few weeks, and it probably showed. A lot of those who have been involved during that time have done well, and it is a nice problem to have in terms of picking the side when there is so much competition.”