Bath 24 Newcastle Falcons 6: Margin does not reflect Falcons' performance

Dean Richards had every right to feel aggrieved at the 18-point margin, but the reality is his Newcastle side can now see Worcester in the rear-view mirror

Alex Broadway/Getty Images Scott MacLeod of Newcastle Falcons is tackled by Ross Batty of Bath
Scott MacLeod of Newcastle Falcons is tackled by Ross Batty of Bath

Dean Richards had every right to feel aggrieved at the 18-point margin, but the reality is his Newcastle side can now see Worcester in the rear-view mirror.

The Warriors may be winless at the foot of the Aviva Premiership, but their one-point loss to champions Leicester saw them chewing into the buffer between them and a Falcons side showing plenty of fight down at Bath, but emerging empty-handed.

Drawing 3-3 at half-time and leading by three in the first knockings of the second period, Richards’ charges were ultimately undone by half an hour of pressure from a side making the most of their attacking chances.

“The scoreline doesn’t do us justice,” said the director of rugby, Francois Louw’s last-minute try adding artificial sheen for Bath who were made to work for every single point.

It was Newcastle’s season in a nutshell, showing structure and fortitude in defence against the wind, giving themselves a chance and failing to take it when the elements were in their favour.

 

Despite playing almost exclusively inside their own half during the opening 40 minutes there was never a sense the visitors were lacking control, Gonzalo Tiesi marshalling the wall of white from outside centre and a dominant scrum playing its part.

Home fly-half George Ford, discarded by England, found the target with only one of his four attempted penalties in difficult kicking conditions, opposite number Phil Godman slotting with ease his one-and-only first-half pop at the posts.

A half-time ear-bashing by head coach Mike Ford seemed to have done Bath little good as Godman’s second penalty put the Falcons three ahead on 42 minutes, but it was to be their last points of the day as the hosts ran in 21 without reply.

The momentum seemed to swing with the double substitution which saw the weight of Oliver Tomaszczyk and Matt Thompson removed from the scrum, referee Tim Wigglesworth hammering the new-look front-row with four penalties on the bounce.

Irked by the Yorkshireman’s interpretation of matters in the front-row, Richards said: “If somebody is getting away with something then they are going to carry on doing it, especially if the penalties are going their way.

“That is how I saw it all day, and I was particularly disappointed with the way the set-piece was officiated.”

Bath used the platform efficiently, Argentine wing Horacio Agulla scoring down the right from a two-on-one by Ford, and No 8 Leroy Houston barrelling over from close range on a hard crash-ball line.

“The parity we had in the set-piece was lost a little bit, but we gained around the fringes,” said Richards, bringing on George McGuigan and Kieran Brookes. “It was a damned if you do and damned if you don’t scenario, and we were chasing the game so we had to put the youngsters on. I thought those young lads did OK, and there were a lot of good performances.

“Bobby Vickers at loose-head prop was also outstanding, Tiesi read it very well defensively and there were a number of players who stood up.” Louw’s last-minute try seemed cruel given Newcastle’s continued spirit, Richards reflecting: “We took a lot of heart from that first-half performance, but understanding how to play the conditions is so important.

“We are disappointed with the score, the boys are none too happy but we will learn from it.

“There were still good things to take from the day, but obviously it was getting points from the game that we really wanted.”

NEWCASTLE FALCONS: A Tait, N Cato, G Tiesi, J Helleur, S Sinoti (A Powell, 16), P Godman (R Clegg, 54), W Fury (C Pilgrim, 74); R Vickers (G McGuigan, 54), M Thompson, O Tomaszczyk (K Brookes, 54), S MacLeod, F McKenzie, W Welch (captain), A Saull, M Wilson.

Sin-bin: O Tomaszczyk (35).

Falcons scorers – Penalties: P Godman 2.

BATH: N Abendanon (H Agulla, 9), A Watson, O Devoto (G Henson, 77), K Eastmond, M Banahan, G Ford, P Stringer (M Young, 74); N Catt, R Webber (R Batty, 9), J Orlandi (A Perenise, 51), S Hooper (captain, R Caldwell, 74), D Day, M Garvey, F Louw, L Houston (A Fa’osiliva, 71).

Bath scorers – Tries: H Agulla, L Houston, F Louw. Conversions: G Ford 3. Penalties: G Ford.

Referee: T Wigglesworth. Attendance: 11,132.

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