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Richards bemoans poor Falcons start

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards bemoaned his side's performance in the first half hour of their 35-10 Aviva Premiership defeat at home to Northampton Saints.

Defending champions Saints ran in three tries during that period through Will Hooley, Alex Waller and Ken Pisi with Hooley also kicking 13 points. The Falcons improved after the interval with Noah Cato scoring before George North touched down late on to secure a bonus point win for the Saints.

Newcastle had 59 per cent possession during the game and Richards admits they need to be more clinical if they are going to end their losing run, which now stands at 19 Aviva Premiership games.

"In the first 28 minutes we were dreadful," Richards said. "We sat down at half-time and said, 'Look, what chances have we got?' and everyone thought we might be able to get four tries, or get within a losing bonus point or even get the four points.

"We didn't think they had done anything out of the ordinary we were just poor in the first 28 minutes.

"We have to have more accuracy in what we're doing and we didn't have that accuracy which is what ultimately let us down in the final 10 or 15 minutes.

"I definitely think progress is being made and the quality of players coming through is promising. There's a lot of stardust in there but a lot of youth as well and we need to get that blend right."

Hooley, starting in place of the injured Stephen Myler, crossed after four minutes and added two penalties before Waller finished off a sublime counter attack which started midway inside the Northampton half.

Juan Pablo Socino got the Falcons on the board but Northampton again struck on the counter with Pisi touching down under the posts.

Cato scored the hosts' only try on 70 minutes after quick thinking from Will Welch but North ensured Saints would leave with a bonus point on 78 minutes, much to the delight of Saints coach Jim Mallinder.

"It's always difficult to come up here and I think to come away with a bonus point is very pleasing," he said.

"I thought we played really well in the first 30 minutes. We could have maybe scored one or two more tries but a lot of the offloads were fantastic and we made some really good decisions.

"It was a little bit disappointing that we didn't go on and get the bonus try earlier but we stuck with it and thankfully got it at the end.

"Will Hooley did very well. It's always difficult as a fly-half coming in and running the team but he did well for us in preseason when Stephen wasn't available and we need to have options."

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