Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards admits poor finishing cost his side dearly after Brive left Kingston Park with a narrow 9-7 victory in the Amlin Challenge Cup last night.
The result leaves the Falcons’ European aspirations hanging by a thread with a Calvisano triumph at table-toppers Brive and a win at home to Bucharest, their only hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals.
“We created so many opportunities but just didn’t nail them,” Richards told the gathering media.
“They only had one opportunity and eventually got a penalty out of it which secured them the win. If we had finished off our opportunities then we would have been four or five tries clear, so in some respects there is a lot of frustration with the fact that we lost but at the same time if we had lost and not created anything then I would be quite worried,” added Richards.
Handing starts to England Under-20 selectee Zach Kibirige and academy graduate fly-half Joel Hodgson, Newcastle valiantly conjured up a number of chances but to no avail.
Richards said: “We had a young side out there and you have to take your hat off to them for the ambition that they showed in trying to play open-running rugby.
“We are obviously disappointed and the frustration is born out of not finishing off the opportunities that we are creating, and three two on ones five metres away from the try line says it all.
“We’ll get back on the horse and build for next week’s challenge against Bucharest Wolves.”
Nine penalties from the boot of Brive’s Thomas Laranjeira including the decisive kick with five minutes to go proved to be the difference between the two sides.
Richards believes his troops failed to adapt to the referee, and insists the officiating had no bearing on the final outcome.
“One of the lads came off the field at half-time and likened the referee to Paul Daniels because he didn’t know what rabbit he was going to pull out of the hat but I wouldn’t say he was that bad.
“You just have to adapt accordingly to referees from outside of England and we didn’t,” added the Falcons chief.
Newcastle entertain Bucharest next Thursday in their final Pool 3 encounter of the season with tickets still available by calling the Falcons Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060 or click here to purchase online.