Will Welch hailed Newcastle Falcons’ supporters for their vocal backing during Friday night’s nail-biter against Sale Sharks.
A noisy 5,523 opening-night attendance was swelled by the biggest on-the-day walk-up in more than 12 years, Sinoti Sinoti scoring the Falcons’ first-half try as they began the Aviva Premiership with a victory for the first time since 2007.
Welch said: “Our fans make a massive difference and I just love playing at Kingston Park.
“It’s not the biggest stadium out there but they make a hell of a noise, and in tight games that can be enough to pull you over the line.
“It is massive to get our first win of the season in the opening week. I know it’s something we have not done for a while, it is great to get off the mark so quickly and you can sense the confidence around the place.”
The skipper added: “The pleasing thing is that we won the game despite not being particularly happy with some of the things we did, and we know we can improve a lot. It should never have been so close towards the end, our indiscipline in a few areas got them back into the game and we know we can tidy up on that a lot.
“Having said all that, there were a lot of real positives. Our intensity in defence was outstanding, especially at the end of the first half when they were battering our line with repeated phases. The hunger and the fight from all the boys was awesome, and when we stick to our shape we are outstanding. With the likes of Niki Goneva, Sinoti, Simon Hammersley and those guys we have plenty of firepower.
“When we go off-page we look a bit all over the place, to be honest, when we try and shut up shop. We are better when we play with tempo, move the ball and get it in the hands of our back three. We look dangerous in those moments, and when we keep numbers on our feet in defence we are a good team. When we put numbers into rucks and start giving away penalties we shoot ourselves in the foot, and that is the main learning point for us.”
The Falcons’ victory was only secured with the very last kick as Sale fly-half Dan Mugford fired wide with an 80th minute penalty, Welch saying: “When he was lining up that kick I was probably like everyone else in the stadium – just hoping.
“I think the whole team turned religious for about 30 seconds, but all joking aside we are disappointed that we put ourselves in that position in the first place. It’s unfortunate for the lad who missed the kick, but fortunate for us, and sometimes that’s just the way it works.”
With a trip to Bath on the cards next Saturday, Welch said: “There are no easy games in this league but we are going down there with the clear mind-set that we want to get the win, and if we stick to our processes there is no reason why we can’t.”