Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Bates Backing Falcons Teen; Newcastle Miss out on Win after Fly-Half's Error

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Bates Backing Falcons Teen; Newcastle Miss out on Win after Fly-Half's Error

Article excerpt

Byline: ALAN HEDLEY

Newcastle Falcons 16

Worcester Warriors 16

FALCONS chief Steve Bates refused to blame Rory Clegg after the teenager's clanger cost the Falcons victory in their Guinness Premiership draw with Worcester Warriors, writes ALAN HEDLEY.

The Newcastle director of rugby defended his 18-year-old fly-half, who had a fine game apart from the one major error which led to Worcester's equalising try.

The sight of a disconsolate Clegg sitting on the Kingston Park turf says plenty about how he felt about his decision to take a quick line-out inside his own 22 - which all went wrong with a fumble, a turnover and a scrum from which Worcester scored.

Bates said: "Am I going to publicly criticise him for taking a quick line-out? Of course not. If he'd caught the ball and smashed it 40 yards down field we'd all be saying what a genius he is.

"On reflection he will probably say it wasn't the right decision, but I'm certainly not going to castigate him. I thought he played really well when you consider he is an 18-year-old being asked to start regularly in a league as tough as the Guinness Premiership.

"He made Phil Dowson's try with a great piece of vision and a well-executed kick and his all-round play was very good. He will learn from things that happen over the course of a game and naturally he's pretty upset about it.

"The try came from a five-metre scrum which we failed to defend effectively, rather than as a direct consequence of the quick line-out. The boys are all very supportive of Rory.

"You have to take the rough with the smooth with these young guys who are talented but inexperienced. It was a tight game and a very exciting game. It might not have been the most skilful but in the end we are a little disappointed not to have won.

"I felt it was one of our best performances of the season. A lot of what we have been trying to do was in evidence. We created a lot of chances but in the end we just couldn't finish them off."

Bates was seen talking with North Eastborn referee Sean Davey at the end of the game and when asked what that was about he said: "He had talked before the game about zero tolerance at the ruck. I just politely inquired as to whether the same rule applied in the final two minutes when Worcester were fringing offside on numerous occasions.

"I put my point of view over very calmly and succinctly, but I can't really say any more or I could be in trouble."

Davey's first-half sin-binning of Adam Balding for not rolling away from the tackle looked harsh especially as he had half the forwards on top of him. And it looked even more harsh as Worcester players were allowed to stay in the tackle area for some time in the second half. They also came round the ruck to steal the ball on at least four occasions when many other referees would have given a penalty - all in kickable positions. …

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