Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ball Retention Seen as the Key by Hogg

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ball Retention Seen as the Key by Hogg

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith

ALLY Hogg believes that holding onto the ball will be the key to Newcastle Falcons' future prosperity. Having made a record 179 team tackles eight days ago at Harlequins, the sheer volume of defensive exertion ultimately told in a 39-8 Premiership defeat.

Learning their lesson with a much less wasteful use of possession in Friday night's 26-25 home triumph over Gloucester, the Scot said: "It makes a huge difference when you don't gift the ball to the opposition.

"That was the main lesson from the Harlequins game the week before, where we had actually played some decent stuff but just had to defend for massive periods.

"We turned the ball over and they went the length of the field to score on a few occasions, but on Friday we caused Gloucester problems by just hanging on to it and making them tackle us time after time.

"We put the pressure on them, and as the game went on we played in the right areas of the field."

The No 8 added: "Collectively the whole performance was much tighter, and that was the main thing. We did not do a lot different, but we just held on to the ball.

"We had a spell in the second half where we must have gone through more than 20 phases to gradually gain the field position for one of Jimmy Gopperth's penalties.

"Previously we were the ones defending for that number of phases, and it is just a different mentality for us to apply that much dominance to teams and starve them of possession."

Having conceded a try to Olly Morgan with just a minute on the clock, Hogg said: "When we went seven points down so early I was thinking 'here we go again' but the same thing actually happened when we beat Wasps here a month or so ago.

"Maybe we should just give the opposition a try early on if it means we win the game, but in all seriousness it is not the worst time to concede in a way because it means you still have 79 minutes to put it right.

"It was disappointing because we had talked before the game about how we were going to play into the wind and keep it tight for the first half.

"The plan was to keep hold of the ball and work our way out, which in fairness we did do for the rest of the half, but to start the game that way was not ideal. …

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