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Crestfallen Newcastle boss rues letting league leaders off hook

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons – Gallagher Premiership – cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens

Newcastle interim head coach Micky Ward felt his side let league leaders Northampton “off the hook” after failing to take advantage of their first-half opportunities in a 38-13 loss at Franklin’s Gardens.


The Falcons crashed to their 12th defeat of the campaign and look in danger of becoming only the third side to finish winless in a Premiership season, following Rotherham in 2003-04 and London Welsh in 2014-15.

However, against Premiership pacesetters Northampton they were firmly in contention to break their duck when they trailed only 19-13 after a highly competitive first 50 minutes, only to fall away badly as they conceded 19 unanswered points.

Ward said: “The final score doesn’t lie but we let them off the hook in the first half.

“We left a couple of tries out there and I believe we were the better side up to the interval and should have been ahead at half-time.

“We had a lot of entries into their 22 and were held up over their line but we need to be more clinical.

“We then started chasing the game and went off script so it was difficult for us to recover.”

Newcastle have recently appointed former Sale and Worcester boss Steve Diamond as their new consultant director of rugby and he starts on Monday, with Ward hoping his arrival and the upcoming Six Nations break will give the Falcons a “fresh start”.

Ward said: “Steve doesn’t mess about and is not elaborate.


“He will want to start with a simple game plan and put that in place as a foundation.

“The break in the Premiership has come at the right time as it will be a fresh start for us as the players will want the chance to impress the new guy.”

Courtney Lawes, Sam Matavesi, Tom James, Ollie Sleightholme and Juarno Augustus scored tries for Northampton. There was also a penalty try with Charlie Savala adding three conversions as Saints ensured themselves of top spot heading into the break.

Adam Radwan crossed for Newcastle’s try with Louie Johnson kicking two penalties and a conversion.

Northampton director of rugby Phil Dowson accepted his side – bereft of players through international call-ups – had been given a real challenge by the division’s bottom club.


He said: “We saw that they had a real buzz from their victory at Perpignan last week and we know that they are always a really tight group.

“We took our opportunities and they didn’t take theirs and if they had done so it might have been a totally different story.

“With so many changes in our side, we tried to play a more simple game and it took us some time to grow into the match.

“The break has come at a right time for us as energy levels need to be recharged and we hope we can recreate our momentum when the league resumes.”


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