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Dean Richards applauds fightback as Newcastle see off Northampton

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards was elated with his players' response after they overturned a nine-point disadvantage to crush Northampton 46-31 at Kingston Park.

The Falcons put themselves in contention for a top-six finish in the Aviva Premiership by scoring five second-half tries to turn a 24-15 deficit into a win which lifted them to seventh in the table.

The 7,660 crowd were treated to a hugely entertaining game in which the Saints roared out of the blocks with two tries in the opening five minutes, before Newcastle did exactly the same at the start of the second half.

"I was more frustrated than worried after the first 10 minutes," said Richards. "There were opportunities all over the place but we conceded two soft tries.

"Then we clawed our way back in and sat down at half-time, talked about it and sorted it all out. We were quite measured about it. The players themselves knew what was needed, they're bright boys, they know the game.

"I know we then made an incredible start to the second half but the deal wasn't done? We had to stick with it right through to the end and we underlined we're an 80-minute side.

"But you also have to take your hat off to Northampton who played a big part in what I thought was a great game, and we sent a lot of Falcons fans home happy.

"We'll have a brief celebration but it's a short week with playing today and then next Saturday being at Exeter, and there are a few bumps and bruises to sort out.

"The boys have taken a bit of a battering so we'll see how things are tomorrow."

Northampton boss Jim Mallinder conceded his side may now have to lower their sights with a top-four placing possibly out of reach.

The Saints sit one spot and one point below Newcastle in the standings.

He said: "We now need to win next week and we need to look at small targets. We need to get back into the top six in the table.

"Top four looks a long way away and we need to win against Worcester next week and climb the table again.

"It's never easy in this international period with three games out of your four away from home, which has made it tough. We need to win next week and make sure we get back to winning ways.

"We need to work on our defence. There's been a flip of the coin. We weren't scoring tries but our defence was good, now we're scoring lots of tries but also conceding a lot of tries. That's what needs work because our defence let us down today.

"After controlling the game for that first 20 minutes, we were terrible. We were loose and we just didn't put in the tackles, and you can't do that against Newcastle, who are a good side."

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