Mixed feelings for Walder as Euro quest ends

Saturday 21 January 2023 Written by: Adam

Saturday’s 35-21 home win over Connacht saw the Falcons racking up the full five points, but events in France meant it was not enough for them to progress into the knock-out phase of the competition.

“I said to the lads at the end I’m disappointed we haven’t qualified, but the reality is we haven’t played well enough over the four games,” said Walder.

“Tonight I thought we were really good in patches, our attitude and intent was bang-on and we started strongly.

“A mistake of ours let them back into the game, which was disappointing, but Connacht are a very good team and we knew it would be tough.”

The Falcons boss added: “Connacht managed the referee well, judging by what we could hear on the ref-mic.

“We’ve been trying to get hold of Tony Spreadbury at EPCR all week to get clarity on certain things and we’re still waiting for him to return our calls, and there were a couple of things around the set-piece which contributed to making things messy.

“I thought they handled that slightly better than us, but we spoke at half-time about what we needed to fix.

“We scored quickly after half-time which was great to secure the bonus point and get the confidence back, but we became sloppy with some cheap turnovers and they came back into the contest.

“We hung in there, and although you never really want to see scrambling defence as a coach you have to give credit to the way the guys held on during that second half. I’m very proud of that work ethic and togetherness, and then the try right at the end just gave us that breathing space.”

Continuing an impressive run of home form as they now face back-to-back games against Southern Knights in Melrose (Feb 4) and in Newcastle (Feb 11), Walder said: “The players are all working hard, they’re all pushing each other on every day in training and they’re a great group to work with.

“As long as we keep trying and maintain that spirit, with the quality we’ve got in the squad I think we’ll be okay.

“The boys will have next week off because this is the end of a long block for us, and then we’re back in for the two games against Southern Knights.

“Both of those matches are important for us because Doddie Weir is a club legend and it’s helping raise money for his foundation, so we will treat them with the respect they deserve.

“It’s also a chance for some of our guys to get a run-out, to represent the club, and to ready ourselves for the big Premiership block which is on the other side of those two games.”

[**Click here**][1] to buy tickets for Newcastle Falcons v Southern Knights on Saturday February 11 (1.30pm).

[1]: https://www.eticketing.co.uk/newcastle-falcons/EDP/Event/Index/1834