Ryan Shortland's Newcastle Falcons out to prove their point

Kiwi wing Ryan Shortland is determined for points drought to end as Harlequins visit Kingston Park

Newcastle Falcons' Ryan Shortland
Newcastle Falcons' Ryan Shortland

Playing winger for the Premiership side with by far the lowest scoring record is not always a barrel of laughs, but Ryan Shortland is determined to improve on Newcastle Falcons’ miserly points total.

The Kiwi was to the fore in a display of fine defensive organisation during Saturday’s 18-0 defeat at title contenders Northampton, racing 50 metres from the opposite flank to make a try-saving tackle.

Working with limited ball, however, the rugby league convert and his side drew a blank in attack - his side on a run which has seen them score just three points in their last two league games.

Their average of 8.6 points per game is even worse than that of win-less strugglers Worcester Warriors, Shortland remaining upbeat about the challenge as free-scoring Harlequins prepare to visit Kingston Park on Sunday.

The ex-Otago man said: “The attack stuff just hasn’t come off for us yet and it is trying to get the forwards and backs working in harmony.

“It is more frustrating than worrying, the lack of tries. We do like to play, but we just have not put it all together in the same game.

“We will produce something good on the field and then have a turnover or a mistake and the key is putting it all together in that full performance that everyone aspires to.”

Making no attempt to trot out the cliched line of team performance trumping personal contribution, the natural finisher is greedily hunting the tries that can propel him once more up the scoring charts.

He added: “As an outside back I want to score as many tries as I can, and for guys like myself and Noah Cato on the wing we want to be the ones finishing off the moves.

“We haven’t had that chance as yet, but with an open game this week hopefully we can see a bit more of the ball and make it happen for the team.” Hopeful Harlequins’ expansive game-plan can provide the ideal attacking launch-pad, Shortland said: “I want to play rugby and to get the ball in my hands.

“That hasn’t been happening lately as much as we all want it to and hopefully if both teams play an open brand on Sunday then everyone can get the kind of flowing game that people want to come and watch.

“The way Harlequins play means there are gaps around the field.

“If we can force them into mistakes and achieve turnover ball, the hope is we can use that to our advantage.”

Building on their positive defnsive progress against a Northampton side who had managed to surpass the 30-point barrier against every visiting side this term prior to the Falcons’ arrival this week, linking all facets of their game remains the biggest barrier to overcome.

Shortland said: “The full performance is what everyone is after, and we are yet to execute it.

“Sometimes the boys are happy with how we have gone and the coaching staff are not - and sometimes it might be the other way round.

“Last week at Northampton the boys left the field frustrated by our attack, whereas the coaches were happy with a lot of the performance due to our defence.

“Marrying the two is the leap we need to take and the work is certainly going in to try and make it happen.

“Our defence coach Graham Steadman on Saturday was the happiest he has been since he joined the club. We have to keep building on that and there are other things we can bring to the game.”

Understandably playing down the significance of the Bloodgate scandal as director of rugby Dean Richards coaches against his former club for the first time since his three-year ban, he added: “We haven’t looked at that or read anything into it at all.

“It is not remotely on our radar, and the only thing we are concentrating on is what we can do during the game to try and get the outcome everybody wants for us.

“All we are doing is building week to week.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer