Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Need Right Balance; Attacking Deficiencies Prevent Tigers Being Tamed

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Need Right Balance; Attacking Deficiencies Prevent Tigers Being Tamed

Article excerpt

Byline: Nick Purewal

Leicester Tigers 15 Newcastle Falcons 6 THE curse of overcompensation is yet to strike Newcastle Falcons, but Steve Bates will still see the irony in Saturday's Leicester defeat.

On succeeding John Fletcher as rugby director, Bates' top priority was to mould a stubborn outfit.

Granted the 'weak pack' days were already behind Newcastle when Bates assumed control, but that did not stop the former Wasps scrum-half shifting the gameplan.

Pragmatism presided over those early days, paying dividend in the latter half of last season when matched with ambition.

Aware he had to add steel, Bates adopted a sensible safety-first outlook, and once his side was ready to play, so they did.

The summer spring-clean left Bates admitting he was all but starting again, and after three contrasting performances the ex-England cap now knows it.

Despite the defeat, this was the most promising Falcons performance this term, given the strength of the opposition.

For Bates, that does not detract from frustrations over continued attacking inconsistencies.

Not yet has the defence-heavy focus stunted attacking growth, but Bates is mindful of the balance.

The Falcons frustrated dominant Leicester, nilling them on try-count and handing them a dubious new club record in the process.

Pleased his side stemmed the tide with plenty of last-ditch heroics which left Leicester locked in their longest-ever tryless league run, Bates also bemoaned the lack of attacking lan.

Gone are the days of 80-point hidings, but Bates does not want his men to disappear into insularity and forget how to find the whitewash.

He said: "The defensive effort and the all-round contribution and team work ethic was superb.

"There are still aspects of our game I am not happy with and which we need to work hard on.

"The lineout was not quite where we would have liked it to be and, while we had an edge in the scrum initially, we did not back that up with the kind of quick ball we needed. …

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