Newcastle boss Dean Richards concedes his side are staring relegation in the face after a “frustrating” 31-17 defeat by Northampton at Kingston Park.
The Falcons battled back from 24-3 down to 24-17 but conceded a late Alex Mitchell try to be denied even a losing a bonus point and if Leicester win Saturday and Worcester win on Sunday, Newcastle will be relegated.
Richards was left to wonder what might have been after seeing his men suffer a 14th defeat of the campaign. “It was a little bit like the last game against Leicester, wasn’t it,” said the Newcastle director of rugby.
“We lacked intensity and we lacked accuracy in the first half. We came back in the second half and had we shown a little more accuracy we would have probably been in front. And then we tried a little bit too hard at the end which gave them that try to finish us off – that first half killed us.
“It is frustrating. We played with a little bit more endeavour and heart in the second half, but it is very frustrating as we had lineouts in key positions to get us try-scoring opportunities and we couldn’t even nail them – that’s the most frustrating thing.
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“Mathematically, we’ve still got a chance but we’ve now got to go down to Gloucester and get five points there and then get five points against Bristol here. It is what it is and if Worcester win on Sunday and Leicester win Saturday then it’s good night us.
“People wrote us off six games ago and had we won against Leicester and Northampton we wouldn’t be sitting here talking about relegation, we would probably have been talking about something else.”
Tom Collins’ first-half hat-trick and Mitchell’s late strike gave Northampton a five-point bonus win and director of rugby Chris Boyd was more than happy with his side’s performance. “We’re delighted we had three tries in the bag before half-time, and we’re delighted to come here and get five points,” he said.
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“The way they were defending and the way we holding through the middle we knew we were going to get some chances on the outside, and Tom Collins has pretty tricky feet and he’s pretty quick. We knew that if we got him into space we’d get some good return on that.
“In the second half they defended further up and that space disappeared, and it also disappeared because we weren’t getting any front-foot ball and they were much more aggressive at the breakdown.
“We’re just very pleased to get the points here and we’ve got Worcester at home next week which is our last game at home and we’d like to finish the the season positively at Franklin’s Gardens. We’ll concentrate on that and what will be will be.”
– Press Association
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