Richards praises thrilling Falcons performance

Saturday 03 January 2015 Written by: Adam

Dean Richards praised his Newcastle Falcons side for the spirit shown in battling back for a four-try bonus point in Friday’s 39-31 loss at Aviva Premiership champions Northampton Saints.

Trailing by 22 points going into the closing quarter the Falcons produced three tries against the league leaders, Richard Mayhew capping off a gutsy team effort with a rolling maul score in the right corner.

“One of the pleasing things was the fact our heads didn’t drop when we went 32-10 down. We stuck at it and weren’t afraid to give it a go, and when we did that the flair and the skill factor came out. There are a huge amount of positives, but we also have to look at the ease with which Northampton scored.

“A little bit like last week against Saracens I am disappointed in some ways and happy in others.”

Delighted by the contribution of his youngsters, the Director of Rugby said: “The quality of the youth that we’re bringing through is pleasing, and they’re rewarding us ten-fold for giving them the opportunity.

“Tom Penny came on at half time because Danny Barnes got a knock to his head, and I thought he was outstanding. Couple that with Chris Harris, George McGuigan and all the others, and we have a great crop coming through. They’re playing really well and holding their own in the top flight.”

Reserving plaudits for his more experienced heads, Richards added: “The youngsters are doing well and taking the praise, but they’re not the only ones doing it.

“You can’t throw the youngsters straight in; the senior boys play a big part in supporting them and bringing them through and they’re doing a great job too.

“Mark Wilson was my man of the match tonight and he has to be close to some sort of recognition by England. Mark is someone who just lets his playing do the talking but I think in time people will start to realise that he really is a quality player who deserves more recognition.

“We have a lot of quality players there and we’ll play in every area of the field and give it a go, which is what it is all about. We want the boys to enjoy themselves when they go out there. Yes we have a shape and certain rules we want to abide by, but on the whole they are given a free licence to play within that shape.”

Having taken bonus points from both of last season’s Premiership finalists in successive weeks the Falcons boss said: “I don’t think anybody gave us any points at all out of those two games, so to come out with two bonus points was pretty pleasing.

“At the same time it is frustrating to have been so close to more points and to have missed out on those, and what disappointed me on the night was conceding the field position which enabled Northampton to score their tries a little bit too easily.

“We just need to tighten up on certain things, but on the whole they are small things. If we sort out a few bits and pieces and tighten those things up we will start winning a few more games.”

Immediate reactions to Friday’s match have seen many praise the Falcons for two equally thrilling and competitive performances in two weeks, despite no less than seven changes to the Falcons’ starting line up. Richards explained:

“We had a lot of guys unavailable for this weekend’s game but it shows that we have a lot of strength and depth, and that’s important to the way we want to play, and to the ambition of the club as well.”

The Falcons’ next fixture will see them play bottom of the table London Welsh live at Kingston Park next Sunday (11th January).

“Next weekend brings a different type of pressure; we made a call early on in the season that we want to start challenging sides in the top four and that’s what we’ve been doing lately.

“We’re looking up rather than down and the viewpoint on the London Welsh game this year has been totally different to last year but at the same time we have to go at it and play the same way we’re playing at the moment without feeling inhibited in any way shape or form.”

Next Sunday’s game kicks off at 2pm at Kingston Park. Tickets are available to buy now starting from just £15 for adults and £7.50 for juniors, and can be purchased [online][1], in person from the Kingston Park Ticket Office or by calling the Falcons’ 24 hour Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060.