Richards credits effort in defeat at Sale Sharks
The visitors led 15-14 at half-time and chalked up a four-try bonus point with the final play of the league’s all-northern derby, Richards saying: “Anybody thinking we were going to come here, roll over and die, can think again.
“There were quite a number of boys who I thought had good games, to be honest with you.
“With the number of South Africans you know exactly how Sale are going to play, and it’s whether or not you front up.
“It’s about how you apply yourself, and a lot of the boys tonight I think really did that.
“It was played at a real pace at times, and we did well to come back and take the lead just before half-time.
“I thought Joel Hodgson played well, Sean Robinson as usual did, Will Welch led the side well, Mateo Carreras looked dangerous on the wing, Matias Orlando went well in the centres and got a try with the final play.”
Asked about a second half in which Sale put their foot on the accelerator against a fully-committed Newcastle side, Richards said: “We made a couple of mistakes and gave them the opportunity to get on the front foot, but we came back and made a real contest of it.
“I thought we were unlucky with quite a few penalty decisions at the scrum, and we could have had another yellow card against them when we were right on their line and they were coming offside. We didn’t get the rub of the green there, but the referees have a difficult job and that’s just the way it goes sometimes.
“It seems like the more you mess about in the scrums the more chance you have of getting a penalty, and the reasons why are sometimes difficult to understand. You’ve just got to deal with it, though, and it’s one of those things.”
Insisting his team’s minds are all fully focused on a strong finish to the season, he added: “We’ve got a couple of weeks now to re-group ahead of the Leicester game on Saturday May 21.
“We’ve got two games left, the players have set themselves the target of winning them and we’ll work as hard as we can towards that.
“We’ll give the boys next week off just to allow their bodies to recover, then they’ll be in the week after to ensure we put a good build-up going into the match.
“There’s a massive focus on the Leicester game with it being our final home outing of the season, and we want to put in a performance for our supporters. We had quite a few travel over this evening, and they were outstanding in getting behind the boys, so it’s a big motivation for us.”
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