Saturday 18th February 2012, 3.00pm
Kingston Park, Newcastle
Aviva Premiership #15
If our last two league games had been played two months ago I reckon we would have been lucky to get one point – a bonus point yesterday. That we actually got five is testament to the new coaching team that has instilled a never-say-die attitude in our team.
We may stay up, we may not. But we are not going quietly.
For most of yesterday’s game I reckon the Falcons were pretty poor, certainly the first half. The frustrating old kick-and-amble was back, we seemed to make little headway towards the tryline, bar when Jimmy Gopperth knocked over a rare drop-goal (he’s not bad at them actually), and Irish went into half-time 6-10 ahead.
When Adriaan Fondse was sent off, for a punch or a slap on Delon “Boo” Armitage depending on who you listen to, it all seemed to be going wrong. The highlights will show what happened in that incident.
Just a word on red cards – I’m all for them when they are deserved, but why are there so few of them these days? Presuming the last red card I saw wasn’t given to Troy Coker of Saracens for giving Ian Peel a black eye back in 1998, I seriously cannot remember the last one I saw in a Falcons game.
Anyway when you are at the bottom sometimes you need a little break, and an apparently-concussed Ryan Shortland nicking a loose pass on halfway and having nobody in front of him as he legged it to the tryline is about as fortunate as you can get.
It was interesting that when the referee had a chance to card an Irish player for blocking a pass in an offside position he decided a penalty was sufficient. Still, at least we got a penalty. Possibly the most blatantly deliberate knock-on I’ve ever seen was deemed worthy of only a scrum in the first half. I’m talking literally throwing the ball forward, as I saw it anyway. Even when a yellow was given, Jon Golding followed the Irish ball-grabber (allegedly) off too for whacking him.
Yesterday shows again though what I’ve always said – when it really matters, the Falcons deliver. There is still all to play for. Wasps’ bonus point against Exeter is annoying but two successive home defeats will do nothing for their morale. I see Worcester got a losing bonus point at Harlequins too.
Wasps saying they have four interested parties looking at taking over the club means nothing. If they had one, fair enough they might get somewhere soon, but how long will it take to whittle four down to the final winner?
Some of their fans have already thrown in the towel. Bit drastic surely, but it seems they have reason to be worried.
As I said in that thread, some of their Sportnetwork website echoes ours a few months ago, especially one saying the players don’t look motivated. That was something I often thought about our team earlier this season, and when the players are not enjoying their jobs then winning becomes so much harder. The Falcons look a lot happier now – certainly Fondse and Taiasina Tu’ifua had a sneaky smiling hug after the game.
Fondse will be a miss if he does end up suspended, but with Andrew van der Heijden coming back then his absence may not be such a big deal. Word is Alex Tait may be back for Harlequins too – perhaps the injury crisis in the backs is easing despite Suka Hufanga being the latest to drop. We could do with James Hudson getting back though, the lineout was again unpredictable today.
Things may be slowly coming together. There will be challenges, and no doubt defeats, still ahead of us this season, but we now only have to win two more games than Wasps for the rest of the season.
The spectre of D-day on 5th May will be starting to grow in their minds.
By the way, thanks to those I spoke to about this blog yesterday afternoon for your kind words. Please keep reading and start commenting!
(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)