Dream start has Fal­cons

But Richards sounds a note of cau­tion on team’s chances

Sunday Sun - - Rugby - Sean Dou­glass

IT’S been a while since the New­cas­tle Fal­cons have had it this good.

You can for­give some sup­port­ers for al­ready whis­per­ing about the prospect of a top-six fin­ish and fac­ing Europe’s elite next sea­son.

Not that di­rec­tor of rugby Dean Richards is in­ter­ested in that kind of talk just yet.

“It means ab­so­lutely noth­ing at all,” he said after his side moved to the top of the Premier­ship for the first time since Septem­ber 2004, thanks to Fri­day’s 29-17 win over Lon­don Ir­ish.

“We’ve got 17 games left and if we’re there at the end of the sea­son, I’ll be ab­so­lutely de­lighted as will ev­ery­body else.

“But if we are then, it’ll be a Le­ices­ter City sce­nario, won’t it? We haven’t quite got the depth that a lot of these other boys have got but hav­ing said that, we are there and let’s see how well we get on.”

The vic­tory was the club’s fourth in their first five games, their best start since the ti­tle-win­ning 1997/98 sea­son.

Ex­pec­ta­tions – and at­ten­dances – are be­gin­ning to grow at Kingston Park as con­fi­dence re­turns to a club that has been on its knees for so long since then.

But Richards, the ar­chi­tect of the trans­for­ma­tion, is keen to tem­per early op­ti­mism and is still re­fus­ing to set any spe­cific goals for his side this sea­son.

He added: “We just take each game as it comes and en­ter each game with a view to win­ning it.

“We’re not that type of side that will look at the sea­son and say, ‘We want to fin­ish as Euro­pean cham­pi­ons or Premier­ship cham­pi­onships’, but what we do look at is each game and how we try and win it.” A largely com­fort­able vic­tory at Kingston Park had some of the gloss taken off it in the fi­nal 20 min­utes as the Fal­cons con­ceded two tries to set up a more tense fin­ish than was nec­es­sary. Richards made it clear he wasn’t happy with his side’s sec­ond-half dis­play, call­ing it “frus­trat­ing” after the match. Ul­ti­mately the game was largely out of sight by that point in any case, with cap­tain Will Welch scor­ing the 60th-minute try that se­cured the vi­tal bonus point. Con­sid­er­ing New­cas­tle picked up only five try-scor­ing bonus points in the en­tirety of last sea­son, it’s easy to see why their at­tack has earned plau­dits after rack­ing up three in just five games this year. De­spite his f r u s t r a t i o n s about how his

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