Richards satisfied with Lyon revenge

Sunday 18 December 2016 Written by: Adam

The French team had been 42-12 winners on their own patch nine days earlier, and grabbed a last-minute bonus point which leaves second spot in their European Challenge Cup pool wide open.

Not that Newcastle’s director of rugby was too upset, Richards saying after the Kingston Park triumph: “We had a bit of a point to prove.

“We didn’t think we turned up last Friday in Lyon, and as a result we wanted to go out there today and prove a point. In the first 60 minutes I think we did that.

“Our younger players are really stepping up, and it’s all about the future of the club. We were disappointed with last week in Lyon, we have partially made amends for that but for us we use this competition as a development tool. The youngsters benefit from that, as we saw today.”

Homegrown fly-half Joel Hodgson scooped man of the match after a lively contribution, Richards crediting a number of his players on the day.

He said: “Joel ran the game from fly-half, and in some ways it was surprising to see someone get man of the match after only playing 45 minutes, or thereabouts. Having said that, he was exceptional when he was on there.

“I thought Callum Chick was exceptional also and would probably have been my man of the match, with Joel fractionally behind him. But both boys were outstanding, closely followed by a number of others. I thought Ben Sowrey had a very good game, to name just one.

“The guys are finishing things off now and enjoying what they’re doing. They are playing with a smile on their face, coming to training every day and having a good time, and it’s a lot of fun when you’re winning.”

The match brought a landmark in one sense with Ireland’s Joy Neville becoming the first woman official in a Falcons first team game, Richards more than happy with the way in which the game was handled.

“You always get differing opinions from people about how the officials perform in games, but today the boys came off and there were no qualms or queries. It was a first for us in having a female assistant referee and she was absolutely fine.”

Admitting to only partial disappointment at the concession of a last-minute try which handed Lyon a potentially valuable bonus point, he added: “It’s probably nitpicking when you consider how well we played, but at the same time yes it is frustrating.

“There were a lot of tired bodies out there and, with the amount of possession Lyon had in that second half, at some stage they were probably going to score.”

Moving back into the Aviva Premiership on Christmas Eve with a visit to champions Saracens, the Falcons’ boss said of the Allianz Park trip: “We have still got a lot of guys out injured, there are only so many boys we could bring back in and hopefully we will get a few more of them in the mix for next weekend.

“Saracens have a 3G pitch very similar to our own and they play a brand of rugby which is very efficient. We understand what they are about and we have absolutely nothing to lose when we go down there. We will play how we want to play.”