Ward rues missed chances after Devon defeat

Saturday 11 March 2023 Written by: Adam

The teams were level at 5-5 going into the closing quarter of a bruising Gallagher Premiership encounter – the Falcons kicking a string of penalties to the corner without return.

Ward, who was helping take charge of the side due to Dave Walder being absent after knee surgery, said: “It was disappointing in some respects but pleasing in others, and I can’t fault the attitude of the lads.

“Their intensity in contact and their defensive work was generally really good, but we didn’t take the opportunities we had in the first half in terms of converting pressure into points.

“In previous weeks when we’ve got five metres out we’ve been pretty successful, and if we’d have got one or two more of those over in the first half it would’ve been a different game.”

Asked if his side should have kicked for goal from a barrage of red-zone penalties rather than going for the corner, Ward said: “It’s easy to say with hindsight that we should have kicked some of the penalties, but we back the players to make those calls on the field because they can feel the momentum of the game.

“Yeah, sat here afterwards we can say, 3, 6 and then 9 on the scoreboard would have put us in good order, but we’d been pretty good from close-range line-outs and I’ll back the lads whatever decision they make.”

Crediting his side’s defence despite the score running away late on, he said: “Exeter’s second-half tries were from a tap penalty which was just a switch-off, they had that maul where we were just a little docile but overall I thought our defensive punch and our work in contact was good.

“There are a lot of things we can take out of it despite the disappointment of conceding those three late tries, and we’ve got four massive games now in which we need to repeat that same kind of attitude.

“There were little bits of detail that we didn’t get right from an attacking point of view five metres out, and although it was in the first half that’s what has cost us the game.

“We had the territory and possession to get those points but it’s our own fault that we didn’t, and those little details are where we need to be better. It meant we were chasing the game later on, and once a team like Exeter gets momentum it’s really hard to pull them back.

“I thought our defensive system held up pretty well and we put in some big hits, and we were in decent order there against a big side. Those first-half chances were what cost us, and then a couple of little lapses later on.”

Asked about the officiating with Exeter building up a massive penalty count, Ward added: “A few of the lads were disappointed with the penalty try and the yellow card we got from it, and Jamie Blamire is sure he scored.

“I’ll not comment any further on the officials because I don’t want to get myself into trouble, and as I’ve said, there were things within our own control that we didn’t nail on the day. That’s where our focus is.”

Newcastle Falcons are next in action on Friday night when they host Ayrshire Bulls.

[**Click here**][1] to buy tickets for the 7.45pm kick-off.

[1]: https://www.eticketing.co.uk/newcastle-falcons/EDP/Event/Index/1861?position=3