Saturday 28 March 2015 – 3.00pm
Madejski Stadium, Reading
Aviva Premiership #18
Yesterday’s one-point loss to London Irish most likely condemns the Falcons to eleventh position in the Premiership for a third time in five seasons, making it five years since we achieved a finish higher than this.
We’re seven points behind Irish with four games to go after a game that we could and perhaps should have won. The Falcons were asleep for the opening period in which we conceded two tries and once we did put some good possession together, especially in the second half, we just couldn’t create enough chances. Often, the play just went from side to side.
Sinoti Sinoti battled valiantly but struggled against an up-front defence that denied him space, though he was unlucky to have a try chalked off for a forward pass. Noah Cato didn’t get enough ball to be effective in attack, and though Adam Powell made plenty of metres, all too often we weren’t able to back him up in later phases. When Chris Harris came off the bench the Falcons looked more dangerous but mainly because of his pace on the right wing.
We can discuss the referee’s controversial sin-binning of Josh Furno, possibly for a tackle that looked dangerous but turned out not to be or possibly for “being punched”. But I’d hope that the coaching team will look at the video and realise that you can’t fail to break the gain line and make lots of handling errors, and expect to beat any decent team, even one that is just a few points above you in the table.
That happens. More concerning is the early slackness, which has happened a few times recently and needs looking at.
On the positive side, we had a couple of standout performers who will have given Dean Richards things to consider. Powell was probably our best player, and since he was in the inside centre position for much of the match it will be interesting to see who plays at twelve and thirteen next week with Juan Pablo Socino having enjoyed a great debut season at Kingston Park.
Richard Mayhew was the pick of the forwards for me, which will make back row selection interesting since he has been a fringe player for much of the season and Ally Hogg has recently signed a new contract.
I don’t think anyone had a shocker, though Dom Barrow had one of his quieter games in the second row.
We scored a couple of nice tries through Harris and Powell and that showed the potential we have in attack. As the stats showed recently, our attack has improved out of sight this season, but the defence has been pretty much the same, suggesting that we need to tighten up to win the close games like this one. There have been three points between us and Irish in the two Premiership games this season, but we have lost both, making a six-point swing to them in the table and of course in such a competitive league that makes all the difference.
There have been a few murmurs of discontent again in the last couple of weeks, and eleventh place in the table won’t silence all of them. Results need to improve, we all know that, and at some point (maybe this time next year) the talking will have to stop and the pudding will need to be tasted. But for now, the tactics and squad required to take us forward are still being developed and moulding them into a regular winning formula takes time.
It’s 364 days since Worcester at home. Surely no Falcons fan would deny that we are in better shape now than back then?
Onwards and upwards!
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