'If you play like we have for the last couple of weeks then you don't deserve to be the top of any race'
Chris Boyd admitted his Northampton side face an uphill battle to progress into the Gallagher Premiership semi-finals following an 18-10 defeat against Newcastle at Kingston Park. In front of a permitted crowd of 1,750 supporters, Saints went into half-time with a share of the spoils despite being penned in their own 22 for much of the opening 40 minutes, with James Grayson and Brett Connon exchanging penalties.
Saints’ Tom James and Newcastle’s Callum Chick were both sin-binned for deliberate knock-ons before the break, but prop Paul Hill went over for the game’s first try in the 50th minute to put the visitors on the front foot. Adam Radwan and Chidera Obonna responded for the hosts to reduce Northampton to defeat, leaving Boyd’s fifth-placed Premiership side eleven points off the top four with three games of the regular season to go.
“We had a good three months and we were set up for the top four, but we have let ourselves down and we have three tough games to finish the season off,” the Saints director of rugby said. “If you play like we have for the last couple of weeks then you don’t deserve to be the top of any race.
“We were missing a lot of players tonight and the ones we have brought in have not had the minutes they perhaps needed. We overplayed in the middle of the pitch and we gave away too many soft penalties. We had poor skill execution which meant for the first 40 minutes we were fighting and it took a lot out of us. If we’d managed the game better we could have maybe put them under pressure and tried to bring the game home, but we didn’t manage that.”
A second successive league win for Newcastle lifted them above Gloucester into 10th in the standings, and director of rugby Dean Richards believes the energy of the crowd helped his team over the line. He added: “They brought a huge noise and it made a big difference in the final 20 minutes. They really picked the guys up, it gave them a huge lift and they really appreciated it.
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“We spoke at half-time about the need to be relentless in the pressure we were putting them under and not give them the opportunity to make easy yards. The strength of the replacements is something we’ve not always had this season. The boys in the front row when they came on were massive. They affected the game just when we needed them.
“It’s disappointing from the territory that we had in the first half that we didn’t come in with more points on the board. We made those decisions though and ultimately it led to the right result at the end of the game.”
'I was very much a middle-to-bottom player in a club… it’s their salaries that are getting cut by a large amount. Those players are left in the s***' @TomStephenson13 walked away from rugby at 26, his mental health in tatters. He talks to @heagneyl ???https://t.co/tIADPwvn0G
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 11, 2021
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