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Richards hails tight victory

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards believes his side deserved a first win on their return to the Aviva Premiership despite it coming by just a point over Sale at the newly-named AJ Bell Stadium.

The Falcons put last week's sodden 21-0 loss at home to Bath behind them with a brave 15-14 victory over the Sharks, who claimed a 22-16 away win over Gloucester on the opening weekend.

Newcastle trailed 11-3 when Nick Macleod failed to convert the game's sole try, scored by Sharks skipper Dan Braid. Macleod, preferred for a second week to former England fly-half Danny Cipriani, also missed two penalties that also proved crucial.

Former Scotland number 10 Phil Godman slotted all three of his penalty attempts before Rory Clegg replaced him and struck the clincher with 13 minutes to go.

Richards said: "We probably edged it in the second half and deserved to win.

"It was a tight affair and if we'd sorted out our defence of the rolling mauls in the first half it might have been a little bit further.

"Full credit to our boys; you look at the defence in the last five, 10 minutes. I thought we were under the cosh a little bit because we were quite happy to give them possession but I thought we defended extremely well, put our bodies on the line and that was probably the thing that got us the result."

Newcastle were not put off by more wet weather, although today's pre-game rain hardly matched last week's monsoon.

"You look at the conditions last week, atrocious conditions, and we turn up today and it's pretty poor conditions again today," Richards said.

"In the first two weeks of the season you expect either sunshine or some reasonable conditions. We've had neither so far and we've come away with a win and a loss."

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond, who highlighted the Falcons' "streetwise" tactics, said: "I thought first half we had a lot of ball and tried to do stuff with it, we got a try in the corner, and we just couldn't get away from Newcastle.

"Second half I thought they were a far better, streetwise team than ourselves, didn't allow us to play and a couple of decisions went against us. (I'm) thoroughly disappointed. That's how it goes, but on their second-half performance I think they deserved their win."

As for Macleod's misses, Diamond said: "We expect our kickers to be at high percentages and he had a bit of an off day in that department, but tight games are won and lost on the kicks.

"Newcastle won it tonight through having an accurate kicker and being a bit more streetwise in the game."


From Belfast Telegraph