Captain Will Welch says Newcastle Falcons’ defensive commitment was the difference during Sunday’s 13-6 home victory over London Irish.
The flanker was a key cog in the Falcons’ wheel as they repelled the Exiles, offering sustained and steadfast resistance near their own try-line.
Welch said: “We were pleased with the fight and we defended in total for about 50 phases during one spell, which was outstanding commitment from all the boys. That was probably what won us the game.
“We knew Irish were going to throw everything at us. We knew how desperate they were, it was just about us being smart around the breakdown and keeping our discipline. The trouble was when we missed one of our tackles and they got in behind us. Luckily the boys rescued it, that was testament to the boys and we responded under pressure.
“We were under the pump for around 25 minutes in or around our own 22, we just managed to come up with the goods defensively and that was what won us the game. We kept our composure, kept our discipline, made our tackles and fortunately we forced mistakes.”
Roared on by a largest home crowd of the season, the skipper said: “It is massive. It makes a huge difference.
“Playing here at Kingston Park is not the biggest stadium in the world, but I love it here, and when we have a crowd in like Sunday it is fantastic to be out there. They are loud as anything when they get going, it drives the boys on and our supporters were outstanding. They were one of the main reasons we came away with the win.
“It was probably the worst we have played for quite a while. It was pretty ugly at times, we defended for most of the second half but in a game like that we would have taken a win under any circumstances. The boys aren’t too fussed about the performance. It was all about the win. Getting the four points was the main thing, the whole squad deserves praise for that and the boys are happy to have achieved the result.”
Adamant the Falcons’ Premiership status is not yet guaranteed and that further work still needs doing, Welch added: “We can’t say we’re safe yet.
“There are still two games to play, London Irish will have a pop at both Harlequins and Wasps and we need to make sure we keep our focus. We need to get back on the horse against Saracens a week on Sunday, then a big game against Sale on the final day, and we want to finish strongly.”