Laycock left looking for improvement

Sunday 28 October 2018 Written by: Adam

The academy manager and first team skills coach was promoted to help lead the side for the Kingston Park clash, the Falcons getting themselves in front but being pegged back by a late converted try in another dramatic finish as the game ended 22-22.

“The boys are gutted that we let a 12-point lead slip, and we conceded some pretty soft scores,” said Laycock.

“I didn’t feel our warm-up was great, that continued on into the start of the game and it took us a bit of a while to get going.

“We didn’t feel early on that we worked hard enough to give us two sides to attack round the ruck, and our work-rate off the ball wasn’t there at times. We managed to create some great opportunities from our set play and phase play, but ultimately we didn’t get the outcomes we wanted and the lads are disappointed.

“We’ve got some things we need to put right but they’re all fixable, and going into the Harlequins away game next weekend we’ll be looking to finish things off better when we get ourselves into a strong position.”

Laycock added: “We ebbed and flowed, and there was some very good stuff at times, but the big challenge for us is how we can turn a nail-biting last-minute win or a draw into a more comfortable result with 20 minutes to go.

“Emotions are obviously high straight after the game and I’m sure we’ll find more positives when we sit down and go properly through the video, but it’s a pretty dejected changing room. The lads felt we were in a good position to go on and win but we’ve just got to make sure we take the learning from it.”

Happy at least with the hat-trick scored by winger Zach Kibirige on the day he turned 24, Laycock said: “The most pleasing thing for Zach is that he has been through tough times in terms of injuries and other things, and he has stayed level-headed throughout.

“He’s a top leader within that group, he has been great this week and it was pleasing to see him scoring a hat-trick on his birthday.

“I’m sure he’ll look at the video and be disappointed by the missed tackle, but you have to view the game as a whole and he contributed a huge amount of positive play.”

Seeing Kibirige’s second try created by a deft grubber to the in-goal from scrum-half Sam Stuart, Laycock said: “Sam has great game awareness and that’s one of his biggest strengths, so to see him execute a skill as difficult as that under major pressure was fantastic.

“It was something we’d identified during the week in terms of the space that Exeter leave there with the way they defend, and it’s great that Sam has spotted and exploited it in a game scenario.”

Moving on to Harlequins away next Sunday in the second round of Cup action, he said: “Harlequins are a different team to Exeter and we have a full week to prepare, so we’ll be looking to show a few different things down at the Stoop.

“What we will continue with is the theme that we’re focusing on ourselves rather then looking too much at the opposition, and we’ll be putting things into place which we’ve been working on since the start of pre-season with some of the guys who gave maybe not had the senior game time that others have had.”