Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards was unhappy with how his team reacted to Tom Penny’s sin-binning during their 31-22 Gallagher Premiership defeat at London Irish.
Full-back Penny was shown a yellow card five minutes into the second half for a shoulder charge on opposite number Tom Parton at a time where the Falcons were threatening a comeback.
While the visitors were a man light, the hosts opened up a 24-8 lead and although Newcastle fought back with a late surge, they ultimately went home with nothing.
Richards said: “The question has to be asked, ‘why was there not a HIA (Head Injury Assessment)’?
“But that’s by the by, it’s not quite about that, it’s more about us looking at ourselves and how we didn’t react to being a man down.
“We went behind early on in the game, which meant we were chasing the game. We were behind and that affected our control of the game as a whole.
“For the first 65 minutes, we couldn’t control the game – the way we played it, how we played it, the pace of the game – and it came back to bite us.
“We lacked the control that we probably should have had at the start of the game and we struggled with that.
“We struggled to get back into the groove and that cost us, but it’s nothing that we can’t put right in a short space of time.”
London Irish opened up a 14-0 lead through tries from Agustin Creevy and James Stokes, but the gap was down to six points by half-time after Ben Stevenson replied for the away side.
Following Penny’s yellow, Curtis Rona’s score looked to have secured the win, but two quick scores from Sam Stuart and Gary Graham gave the Exiles a fright before Motu Matu’u finally made sure of the result late on.
London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney said: “In that 10 minutes before half-time, Newcastle came back into it and there were one or two errors that helped to get them into a good position.
“That was an area that we had to look at in the second half. We felt we had to start doing a bit more of what we were doing earlier in the first half.
“Then once we went up by a number of points, there was nothing particular that we did to put ourselves under pressure, but there were a few decisions that went against us and that allowed them to get into our 22.
“In terms of field position, we lost that, but when we got into good positions, the opportunities came.
“In the second half, as well, Newcastle fought their way right back into it, but we managed to show some composure at the end.”
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