Walder credits 'smart' Saracens

Saturday 12 March 2022

Newcastle Falcons head coach Dave Walder credited a 'smart' Saracens side after a pair of late tries handed them a 36-21 victory on Saturday at Kingston Park Stadium.

The Falcons trailed by just three points going into the closing ten minutes of the Gallagher Premiership encounter, with Walder saying: "We made life hard for ourselves, and they put the squeeze on us.

"At 24-21 down going into the last ten minutes we talked about staying in the fight, and we were definitely in it without actually being able to go the next level.

"Saracens are one of the best teams in Europe at closing things out in those situations, playing the pressure game and using that international experience.

"There was one scrum with 12 minutes to go where they played things pretty smart, we made one slight mistake and they pounced, and that was the game."

Asked about the crucial first-half incident which saw Falcons full-back Mike Brown sin-binned and a penalty try awarded to Saracens, Walder said: "I feel like I'm saying the same things every week in terms of some things not going our way, and in terms of the penalty try, yeah - it is what it is.

"I think Browny has tried to catch the ball, he knows the law and he knows you can't hit it out with your hand. If that's a yellow card, then fine, but calling it a penalty try is another thing. It's been given, though, and we've just got to get on with it."

Frustrated by a second half in which the Londoners dominated the latter stages, the head coach added: "We keep shooting ourselves in the foot, and doing things in ones and twos.

"We didn't put ourselves in the right areas during the second half, and we'd talked about certain things at half-time which we then went out and didn't do.

"We conceded after five minutes in the second half and a few heads dropped, even though we worked hard and stuck at it without really firing our shots.

"We had a chance in the second half where Callum Chick got held up over their line, and we just need to be more patient at times. But Sarries are a good team, and you don't win titles without having that ability to close out a tight game.

"We need to learn from how smart they were, and they're a very well-drilled side who know what they're about."

Crediting his young guns for the way in which they are coming through the system, Walder said: "The club have chosen to go down a route of playing our young homegrown lads, and I think they've done pretty well.

"Week on week they're learning, they're getting better and they're playing more rugby in these last couple of months than they've probably played in the last two years. That has its own effect in terms of the mental load on them, but even in defeat those guys are developing really well.

"It'd be nice to start turning it into wins rather than coming out every week and talking about taking the positives in defeat, and all the players are desperate for that to happen.

"We just find a way to sneak a win, and once we manage to do that I believe they'll start to come in twos, threes and fours."

Newcastle Falcons' next game is on Friday when they host Leicester Tigers in the Premiership Rugby Cup.

Click here to buy tickets for the 7.45pm kick-off at Kingston Park Stadium.

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