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Richards salutes departing Blair

Dean Richards paid tribute to Mike Blair after the former Scotland international captained Newcastle to victory over Harlequins in his final game for the club.

Blair left the field to a standing ovation from the 7,014 crowd shortly after scoring a crucial third try for the Falcons, who went on to add two more for a bonus point and a 37-21 win.

Blair is returning to Scotland to take up a coaching role with Glasgow, and Richards said: "His experience, his knowledge and his skill set is extraordinary - and he's a leader, we'll miss him."

Meanwhile, Richards is already making plans for next season with five new players signed and he has set his side the target of a mid-table Aviva Premiership finish after the Falcons saved the best for last at Kingston Park.

Richards added: "We finished on a high at last.

"After coming so close so many times this season it was important to get the win today and send the crowd home happy - and we showed real ambition at the end to score the fifth try in the dying seconds.

"It's been a frustrating season to miss out on so many games by just a few points. We have to finish mid-table next season - that has to be the target, there's no doubt about that."

With several front-line players out, Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea was resigned after the result and conceded: "We came up against a very strong Newcastle team today and there were a few little things that didn't go our way.

"We'll draw a line under the season and we know where we have to improve."

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