Defence coach John Wells offered an enthusiastic appraisal of his team’s efforts in Dublin on Friday night as Newcastle Falcons defeated European and Pro 14 champions Leinster 42-17.
A convincing night’s work saw the Falcons build on the previous week’s 47-26 home win over Nottingham as they prepare for the Gallagher Premiership opener at home to Saracens on September 2, Wells saying: “I think everyone is pretty chuffed with the performance and the result.
“It was a fantastic attacking performance and we scored some really good tries against a well-organised and good Leinster side, but let’s not pull any punches. That was nowhere near Leinster’s best side and they had a lot of guys missing, but conversely we also had a number of lads not involved.
“For all the positive feeling, justified positive feeling at that, we’ll not lose sight of the fact it wasn’t Leinster’s front-line team. Still, they had six or seven guys who were in and around the European final-winning team, so to come over here and be convincing winners over the European and Pro 14 champions, it was a fantastic effort.”
Pragmatic as ever, Wells added: “We wanted a response from last week because, while we acknowledge we won the game comfortably against Nottingham, it was a very sub-standard performance, typical of the kind you see in your first pre-season hit-out. We were disappointed in ourselves that day but the boot is on the other foot tonight, because we’ve come away to the European champions and proved a point.
“We said to the lads beforehand that this is where our season really starts, and we can’t just come here and walk onto the pitch thinking it’ll fall into our laps. We said we had to focus and perform, and to give the lads their dues they really did that.
“We played with an urgency and verve in attack and defence, and we really went for it. As much as we scored some great tries, the thing that pleased me most was how we defended and scrambled. We had scrum after scrum inside our own 22 during that final 20 minutes, and attack after attack against us, but we stuck at it.
“I thought the quality of some of our tackling was outstanding, and we defended as a full team. We were enthusiastic about our scramble although we do have to examine how Leinster made so many line-breaks, but our willingness to work and get back was really good across the board. People stepped up when they had to, and it’s a good building block for us. We can now show the guys these videos and say ‘look, you can do it’, and it’s a real starting point for our season.”
The Falcons face a busy weekend as they host Edinburgh on Friday before travelling to Doncaster the day after, Wells and his coaching team having the luxury of choosing from a highly competitive player pool.
“The players are looking forward to next weekend’s games against Edinburgh and Doncaster, and so they should be,” he said.
“Edinburgh will be looking at this score and getting themselves wound up for what should be a cracking game at Kingston Park on Friday night, and we’ve got to understand that that’s how Gallagher Premiership teams will turn up and play against us. We’ve got to meet fire with fire, but we’ve got a good mental and physical foundation, we’re in a good place and we want to have a real crack.”
Tickets for Friday night’s visit of Edinburgh to Kingston Park are available by clicking here.