Losing bonus point a bitter sweet reward for Falcons attack coach after gritty Aviva Premiership encounter
Newcastle Falcons' attack coach Dave Walder admitted Saturday's losing bonus point at Wasps was bittersweeet, as his side suffered a 9-8 defeat at the Ricoh Arena thanks to a late Jimmy Gopperth penalty.
Walder, himself a former Wasp, said: “We are hugely disappointed not to have got the win. Yes, we have taken a point away to one of the top sides in the country, but to have lost it from two points up and six minutes to go was a blow.”
In horrendous conditions that saw much of the match become a kicking exchange in driving wind and rain, the Falcons scored the only try of the game of a driving maul through Nili Latu, with Walder saying: “We frustrated Wasps.”
“Nothing really happened in the game, but we controlled the nothingness. The weather was brutal and it was a really professional performance from us. We fronted up, and even with the guys Wasps were missing we knew it was a huge challenge. We coped with that outstandingly well.”
“The try we scored said a lot about our pack, and tries are crucial in games like this. They are like gold dust, and the forwards have been under a bit of pressure from us to start scoring some more from their mauls. We did it last week and again this time. Nili put us into a really good position, and even though we couldn't push on for the win we have learned from it.”
Frustrated not to have worked a kick to win it at the death from a promising series of rucks on the 22, the former England fly-half added: “Even when Wasps went a point up we had three opportunities during those last few minutes. We let it slip through our fingers and we were disappointed that we couldn't work a drop-goal or a penalty during that spell of phases.”
“That conversion which hit the post summed up the luck that Andy Goode had. It looked a great kick off the boot but it got caught by the wind. You need more than your kicker. You need your front five to grind the opposition down, the back three to kick defensively and field high balls, your nine and 10 to control the game.”
“I thought we did all of that. Our back-row offered huge physicality through Will Welch and Nili, then the smartness of Ally Hogg. It really was a great performance but it just wasn't enough to get us that win.”
“When we are in similar situations we will be a bit more clinical in future, and turn these positions into victories.”
Having sent the players out early for the second half for an on-field warm-up, Walder explained: “We came out early to try and address the slow starts we have been having after half-time.
“We had to try something. It is like the elephant in the room. Everyone thinks we should address it and then when we do some people say we're making something out of nothing. We tried something different, it is an 80-minute game and the truth of the matter is we have had some recent lapses which have cost us. Today we tried to change that trend, and to an extent we did.”
Still keeping the smile on his face despite ultimately losing late on, Walder said: “It has got to be positive, despite the obvious disappointment of defeat.”
“To come and get a point away to one of the form sides in Europe – they put 50 points on Leinster a few weeks ago. They are a team on the up, we knew what to expect and we controlled huge parts of the game.
“That is testament to the group. We had opportunities to win it - the next step is taking them.”