Richards' Falcons face bright season

Sat, 27 Aug 2016 14:42
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Newcastle Falcons' Director of Rugby Dean Richards insists his side have a bright Premiership season ahead of them.

Richards' side lost by a point to both Wasps and Worcester Warriors, as well as further narrow defeats to London Irish and a draw with Sharks last season.

That contributed to an 11th-place finish which, by Richards' own admission, was below what they expected.

However, with the vast majority of core players retained, not to mention Olympic silver-medalist Marcus Watson returning full of confidence after a stunning showing in Rio, Richards believes they have the potential to kick on.

"We have not nailed those small margins last year, but when we do - which will hopefully be this year, we will get quite a few more wins," said the 53-year-old Richard.

"We were disappointed because there were so many games that we missed out on by just a few points and it is fine lines in the Premiership.

"Once you get to grips with those, you can advance reasonably far up the ladder. It is about coming to terms with those and understanding those fine margins and nailing it.

"If we do that we will go up the ladder a bit more than we did this year; we were disappointed with where we finished.

"We have shown we can slug it out with the better teams in the league, but it is about doing that on a more consistent basis and winning those tight games which can go either way and are decided by small margins."

With new signings, Niki Goneva, Evan Olmstead, Kyle Cooper, Ben Sowrey, Opeti Fonua arriving at the club, Richards believes a renewed competition for places can help turn slim loses into wins and help drive Falcons up the table.

The Falcons welcome to Sale to Kingston Park on the Premiership's opening night and after two tough results against the Sharks last season, Richards is preparing his men for a huge game.

"Goneva is looking outstanding and in Olmstead, Cooper, Sowrey and Fonua, we have a host of players who have come in and improved the squad. There is far more competition for places this year," Richards said.  

"Sale is a difficult side to beat, we should have beaten them at their place last year and they were comfortable winners at our place.

"We know that we can beat them, but each side has to produce the goods on the day and both teams are aware that they will lose if they don't turn up on the day.

"It will be an interesting duel on the day.

"They have supplemented their squad with people like AJ MacGinty and Mike Phillips, two very good players, so although they might look a little bit weaker with the loss of Danny Cipriani, they certainly are not."

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Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
Edinburgh v Dragons 18h35 Myreside
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 RDS Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors 19h00 Kingston Park
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Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
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Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
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Team P W D L Pts
Wasps 20 16 1 3 79
Exeter Chiefs 20 13 3 4 74
Saracens 20 15 1 4 72
Leicester Tigers 20 12 0 8 57
Bath 20 11 0 9 53
Northampton Saints 20 9 0 11 48
Harlequins 20 10 0 10 47
Gloucester 20 7 2 11 46
Newcastle Falcons 20 8 0 12 40
Sale Sharks 20 6 1 13 36
Worcester Warriors 20 5 2 13 31
Bristol 20 3 0 17 19