Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Must Turn a Negative to Positive; UTTLEY ON RUGBY with Roger Uttley UTTLEY ON RUGBY with Roger Uttley

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Must Turn a Negative to Positive; UTTLEY ON RUGBY with Roger Uttley UTTLEY ON RUGBY with Roger Uttley

Article excerpt

IT MIGHT seem odd to look at any defeat as a good thing, but last week's loss to Newport Gwent Dragons has reminded Newcastle Falcons they need to take care of the nuts and bolts of their game.

The European Rugby Challenge Cup permutations are such that the Falcons can still guarantee a quarter-final place if they beat Bucharest Wolves with a four-try bonus point in Romania tomorrow.

If they can do that they can emerge stronger after the disappointment of last weekend's 40-29 home loss.

Even though that quarter-final would now be away from home it would still represent progress to reach the knock-out rounds of a European competition - something they will be aiming to do on a more regular basis in the future.

To achieve that they have to take care of the basics before they start to play the expansive rugby that has become a feature of their recent matches.

That salutary lesson was presumably learnt having found themselves 35-3 down at half-time against the Dragons.

It was a classic example of failing to subdue and nullify the opposition before playing it wide from the off. The Falcons at least seem to have acknowledged this, based on their post-match comments.

During the second half it was apparent they had sorted a lot of things out and returned to the fundamentals of rugby - winning the contact area, developing forward momentum and only then looking to move the ball into space.

Defeats are part and parcel of any sport. Individuals and teams do not need to dwell too long on the disappointment but do have to learn the lessons quickly.

Their second-half efforts showed tactical acumen and awareness, and it was a creditable performance given what had gone before.

The game became a genuine contest having been so one-sided, and the task is now to take that second-half mind-set into the Bucharest game.

The Romanians might have lost all five of their games in the tournament so far but they have run a couple of teams close, and showed at Kingston Park back in October that they can make life difficult.

The Falcons had to work to earn their supremacy that night, and for all the focus on the league they still have to realise that these cup competitions are important if they are to become serial winners. …

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