Laycock lauds 7s learning experience

Sunday 30 August 2015 Written by: Adam

Newcastle Falcons’ Mark Laycock says the learning undertaken by the club’s academy players is the main positive to take from the 2015 Singha Premiership Rugby 7s series, following a disappointing finals night at the Twickenham Stoop.

Having dominated the Group D qualifying competition at Kingston Park, the Falcons fell to narrow defeats in the Cup quarter final and plate semi-final with both games turning on the smallest of moments.

Facing the Scarlets in the opening fixture of the night, it was a quick fire opening with both sides taking seven points in the opening minutes. The Falcons were first to strike through Michael Fedo before Scarlets drew level after pouncing on a loose ball from a messy restart.

In an end to end game, the Falcons lead 19-12 at the break before the Scarlets levelled to 19 all before the Welsh seized on two key opportunities.

The first was a score from a loose ball as the Falcons tried to keep the ball alive as they were tackled into touch, with the second being a length of the field score from a scrum, after the Falcons’ Ali Crossdale was deemed to have knocked the ball forward on the floor, after the youngster was stopped with a despairing tap tackle as he looked on course for a try under the posts.

The 17 year old did get a score moments after in what was a carbon copy move, but time was up, giving the Scarlets a 26-31 victory.
Against Exeter in the plate semi, after absorbing initial pressure from the Chiefs, Falcons’ Callum Chick got his side off the mark, running a clever support line to finish off a fine break from Gavin Lowe.

It was a tight first seven minutes, with Exeter trying to find a way through and only succeeding in the dying seconds after a mistake from the Falcons in the Chiefs half gave them a free run to the line.

It was more of the same in the second half, but with the roles reversed as the Chiefs took the lead almost immediately after the restart before the Falcons plugged away to find a gap.

That came with 90 seconds remaining as great hands in a flowing move opened up a path for Newcastle University student Rhodri Adamson to score.

With a missed conversion from ten meters in from the touchline, Laycock’s side needed another score to advance to the final, but there wasn’t enough time, allowing the Cheifs to progress and ultimately, win the Plate competition.

Speaking afterwards, Laycock said: “We are all disappointed with the results, especially since we felt we had done enough to win both games in attack. There were some sloppy defensive errors that cost us and proved that in 7s you can’t afford to switch off.

“On a positive note, two of the lads who played at Kingston Park then went on to have an involvement with the fifteens at KP against Georgia and did very well while in the 7s squad, Callum chick stepped up as captain once again, Seb Ferreira and Joe Craggs continued to show real promise and Ali Crossdale demonstrated why he is in the England age group set up with some excellent moments.”

“It was great to see Donald Crawford and Rhodri Adamson representing the club as students at Northumbria and Newcastle and obviously the experience of the Scottish contingent was huge in bringing on these youngsters and we are extremely grateful to Kitty [Scotland 7s coach Calum MacRae] and the players for what they have done over the past two weeks.”

“Every cloud has a silver lining and on this occasion it is most definitely the learning that has taken place for our academy players.”