Richards praises energy and enthusiasm in Falcons’ European victory

Saturday 18 October 2014 Written by: Adam

Dean Richards hailed Newcastle Falcons’ young guns after a largely homegrown side saw off Bucharest Wolves in a 43-19 opening to the club’s European Rugby Challenge Cup campaign.

A team featuring three debutants amongst eight Falcons Academy players past and present got off to a sterling start against the Romanian side, with an emphatic first-half performance that saw them take a 36-7 lead into the break.

Richards said: “There were a number of pleasing things about tonight and I’m delighted in a lot of ways.

“Firstly for the debuts, we had four lads making their first starts and they did exceptionally well – three out of four scored – but there were a lot of young boys out there and I thought they acquitted themselves well.

The Director of Rugby added: “It was great to see Chris Harris and Tom Penny playing as well as they did in the centres, both making their starting debuts and both scoring tries.

“A young lad like Will Witty showed exceptional work rate and deserved his try, and there were a lot of good performances which all bodes well for the future.”

Speaking of a side that boasted a host of experience alongside the fresh talent on show, Richards continued; “The average age of tonight’s team was 24 and even the older heads were people like Dom Barrow who is still only 21. But some of those guys – people like Rob Hawkins – have a great deal of Premiership experience.

“Rory Clegg at fly-half went well, I thought Warren Fury at scrum-half was exceptional, and the team were really well led by Andy Saull, who had a great game as captain.

“The pleasing thing for me was the way they played the game; the team overall may not have had too much experience on the field but stuck to their guns and made it happen, and I thought they were outstanding in that respect.”

The opening match of the Falcons’ European campaign got off to a strong start when Second Row Will Witty touched down for the home side’s first try less than two minutes into his senior debut.

But having collected their bonus point by half time, a less convincing start to the second half saw Bucharest pick up two tries to make their own mark on the scoreline.

Richards commented: “We started like a train. The boys mis-directed some of their energies and enthusiasm at half time and maybe tried too hard in some areas.

“If you try hard in certain ways and lose your shape a bit it comes back to haunt you, and as a consequence it didn’t quite happen as it did in the first half and we gifted them a couple of tries which we wouldn’t ordinarily have done.

“But there was no lacking of effort and they picked it back up again and denied them a bonus point. It was good to see so much energy out there and great to not only take a win away from the game but to have our bonus point sewn up before half time.”

The Falcons next European Rugby Challenge Cup fixture will see them travel to Rodney Parade this weekend to take on Newport Gwent Dragons.