Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Take a Major Step towards Safety; THE MATCH: London Welsh 3 Newcastle 23

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Take a Major Step towards Safety; THE MATCH: London Welsh 3 Newcastle 23

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith at Kassam Stadium @markismith50

TALK of relegation being decided in October might seem ridiculous, but Newcastle Falcons took a major stride towards safety thanks to a comfortable afternoon at struggling London Welsh. The understated handshakes on the final whistle were in stark contract to the outright jubilation the previous week against Exeter, Newcastle missing out on a four-try bonus point which had seemed a formality when they went 23-3 up with half an hour still left to play.

The difference in class between the sides was such Falcons captain Will Welch admitted through gritted teeth his side had "left a point out there."

They at least move into a month of cup games with an eight-point safety net between themselves and the bottom of the table and playing a brand of rugby which can threaten those above them.

The speed with which they moved the ball, the frequency of their offloading and the abundance of support runners were all signs of real progress, forwards popping up in the back line and adding a multi-faceted dimension to their offensive armoury.

It was all grist to the mill for their director of rugby Dean Richards, casting a rueful glance back at some of the nay-sayers during their 20-game Premiership losing streak.

He said: "The confidence has been there all week and even leading into the Exeter game there was huge con-fidence.

"It was interesting reading the reports and listening to the media, saying is there a crisis in the camp and all this.

"There was never a crisis going into Exeter, it was just a case of going out there and nailing that first win."

Admitting his annoyance at not sealing the bonus point, the Falcons boss added: "The final 20 minutes were frustrating for the coaching team because we thought the five points were there for us, but we probably took the wrong options at times.

"Iverall I am happy, and if you had asked me a week ago to take eight points from the Exeter and London Welsh games I would have been delighted to do so."

Richards was right to be chipper about his side's early offering, Juan Pablo Socino and Olly Barkley trading penalties before Newcastle properly found their groove.

Adam Powell's 15th-minute try was a manifestation of much that is good about his side, Socino finding Dom Barrow on a hard mid-field line, Mark Wilson supporting and Powell timing his run perfectly to collect the scoring pass.

Socino's missed conversion from virtually in front and a botched penalty from similar range in the end did not matter, the Argentinian managing a further penalty for 11-3 before being stood down from kicking duties due to Rory Clegg's arrival.

That was as a result of Gonzalo Tiesi's head injury, Clegg dropping into the back-line at fly-half and moving the point of attack through his trademark long passes and well-judged kicks to the corner. …

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