Andrew Praises Tackle-Hungry Falcons1st November 2004
A heroic hit from fullback Matthew Burke and a steady all-round team effort kept the Catalans at bay despite intense late pressure, and Andrew said afterwards: Weve been tested massively in the last two games and weve stood up well.
I think our whole team defensively has been good, and thats down to the players. You cant be successful at this level if your defence isnt up to a high standard. Ours wasnt against Leicester and Wasps, but in the last two matches has really sorted itself out and made us competitive again.
We showed a lot of character at the end when we were under pressure, and we could quite easily have lost both games in the last minute, but we held out well. We identified what the problems were from our bad run, and credit to the players as theyve really worked hard at it.
Despite the victory Andrew still saw room for improvement as his side travel to Sale Sharks in the Zurich Premiership this Friday, saying: Im happy with the win, but Im frustrated in one respect because I really thought we had the chance to take the game away from them midway through the second half.
If we had just had a little more belief at times we could have got that cushion, which would have meant the end of the game not being quite as dramatic as it turned out. Having said that, all you can do in that situation is defend, and I thought we were phenomenal there for the second week running.
We were sensational in keeping them out, not only in our phase defence, but also the set piece, when Perpignan had two scrums near our line towards the end. We saw what they did to Edinburgh last week, so to keep them out was fantastic. I would just like it to be a little bit easier on the old ticker.
Were still working on the self belief and confidence of this group of players. I said to them at half time that I felt we were just playing within ourselves a bit, and we were almost waiting for the counter punch, which didnt really come. We said just take this game from them, because its there to be taken, but we still just lacked a little bit of killer instinct and confidence to go and do it.
Andrew was full of praise for fullback Burke after his try-saving tackle right at the death, and said of his overall performance: I said in the summer that I think fullback is his best position, and hes absolutely outstanding there.
Last week he waltzed through those awful conditions at Newport like he was just going through a training run, he was so good, and he just makes everything look so easy. He made an amazing tackle at the end of the match to save us the game, and hes just a world class player.
Another star turn was fly half Dave Walder, in his second start in the No.10 shirt following Jonny Wilkinsons injury.
Daves done extremely well in the last two matches since coming in, said Andrew.
Everybody knows the position he finds himself in, and its pretty tough being behind Jonny in one position and Matt Burke in the other. If you travelled the whole planet youd struggle to find a better fly half and a better fullback than those two, but hes played exceptionally again today, which is great for the club and for Dave.
It was only on the Thursday lunchtime before last Saturdays game at Newport that we had to make the decision about Jonnys injury, and both Dave and the team have responded very well to what could have been a difficult situation.
The lads have really got behind Ian Peel as captain, and have had the attitude of lets just do what weve got to do. Theyve put in two superb performances.
Heineken man of the match (pictured) Jamie Noons claims on an England place were done no harm at all with a dominant display, after which Andrew stated: Its a personal view, but I would just let Mike Tindall and Jamie Noon get on with it during the autumn Tests.
I think its time to move on. Noonys form has been good, and England have to move forward ahead of the next World Cup. The sooner they can do that the better, and Noony is ready for it.
In the last two weeks hes been forced to play inside centre for us because of injuries, and the good thing with him and Tindall is that they can both operate in either position. Sometimes you just have to go with the form players, and if that means playing left and right instead of inside and outside, then so be it.
I think its time that he was given a chance in the team, and not just a single game. All international players need a time to settle, and I believe over the last two years that Noony has earned that right.
With a few bumps and bruises in the Falcons dressing room after the game, Andrew praised the intensity level of his side and the physical approach of his forwards, saying unequivocally: Were in the Heineken Cup now, and its a big boys game.
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