Five thoughts from Newcastle v Worcester
March 4 2016
A few things I’m thinking about as I enjoy some left-over pizza and a bottle of Brown Ale.
Though the Falcons dominated possession and territory in the first half, we didn’t have many clear chances, playing mainly between the halfway line and Worcester 22. That came back to haunt us as Worcester took the lead with the final play of the first half and then kicked on after the interval. To be fair, the visitors’ high line of defence was well organised and the Falcons didn’t have enough nous to break it down often enough. One incident that concerned me a little was with two minutes to go, the Falcons were attacking, and if ever there was a time to just go forwards and trust your teammates to support you it was then. But no, a player I won’t name did that little jink that players do even when there is no chance of getting around an opponent, and his momentum was lost.
2) Flair’s flair
I’m struggling to think of a back who played brilliantly tonight. Chris Harris might have been the pick for making some good attacking runs and getting most of his tackles right. We are seriously missing a fit Sinoti Sinoti and in-form Juan Pablo Socino though I feel, and if we run defences like Worcester’s again that need a little bit of magic for us to unlock them, it might be worthwhile just throwing JP in and letting him play his way back into form. Whether that would be alongside the rock-solid Adam Powell or the maverick Harris is another question, but certainly we could’ve done with a bit of Argentine flair tonight. And some Samoan unpredictability.
3) Kick up the ****
I’ve mellowed a little on the kicking game over the last year – I see the benefit of the opposition having the ball in their half rather than us having it in ours. However, there comes a point when it gets predictable and the opposition just wait for us to give them the ball back. There has been a bit of hate for Michael Young, including someone shouting tonight: “Micky Young, you’re rubbish!” (I felt like paraphrasing Bart Simpson: “At least Micky’s trying, what are you doing to help?”), but he sends up so many box-kicks that it must be part of the gameplan, so blaming the lad himself is a waste of time. Kicks have their place, but as part of a varied gameplan and when used correctly.
Also on this topic, what was going on with Andy Goode’s crossfield kick from right to left, when we had about three players on that side and little way to prevent Worcester coming forwards?
4) TMO = Too Many Occasions
I think Wayne Barnes probably ruled correctly that Marcus Watson deliberately knocked on in the final few minutes, however as he saw it straight away and gave advantage, why the need to go back and check it again on the screen? To decide on whether or not to show a yellow card? I’d have thought that would have been clear at the time, since Barnes had decided an offence had been committed immediately. Obviously we all want as many decisions to be correct as possible, but there has to be a balance to allow the game to flow, and referees should not be able to abdicate responsibility for making decisions as the sole arbiter.
5) Lighten up
Plenty of doom-mongering on this site tonight, and one comment I really didn’t understand is that apparently all of our momentum from recent home wins has been lost. That’s quite defeatist and a bit of an exaggeration. If anybody thought that the Falcons were going to go unbeaten for the rest of the season, even at home, they were being a bit unrealistic. We’re not going to go on a ten-game winning run this season or probably next, and if anything we’ve been punching above our weight in the last couple of months. Our good run of form was going to end sometime, and the important thing isn’t that it happened, but how we respond to it. I remember Sir Alex Ferguson once saying that he didn’t tell his Manchester United players never to lose a game – he told them not to lose two in a row. Obviously that did happen sometimes, but the theory is sound: you can’t stop there being setbacks, but you can react positively to them. The key is how the Falcons do that now.
Bonus thought) We are staying up
For all the doom and gloom from some people, and with all due respect to London Irish, can anyone really see them getting nine more points than we do before the end of the season?! The Exiles are away to Bath tomorrow – if they get nothing then the relegation battle won’t be quite over, but I’d be surprised if the fat lady wouldn’t be getting on her way to the theatre.pqs: qs:
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Half the box kicking was very good, considering the wind, but I'm not sure about our decision making. With about 10 minutes to go in the first half we went for 3 points instead of kicking for the corner. At this moment I thought we were in trouble for the second half. The Worcester defence was very good, coming up fast all through the game, and we didn't have any spark to break that line. We needed to go from the base of the scrum to punch holes and create space inside, not spread the ball wide every time. Andy Goode had a poor game. Trying to make things happen which could have worked when he was 20, but not in the state he is in now. He even took a dive after kicking ahead and running into a player. Not very pretty to look at. He has done a great job for us, and I'm grateful for that, but we needed more last night
So a very frustrating night which is a shame because there was a good crowd considering it was on TV. To cap it all I had a long drive home as the A1 South was closed and the diversion through Gateshead was a bit confusing. Come on Falcons. I think we are safe.
I was surprised at Andy Goode,'s dive and said to my group that I thought he was better than that. Perhaps what surprised me most was that for all his experience he must surely know that he is 35 and not in the best physical shape so why is he trying little chip aheads anyway because he is just giving possession away.
I do understand the need to box kick but I think it's being very generous to say that 50% were OK. Worcester didn't take very long to work out what was coming by having cover and then running the ball back with interest. And I have been wondering when was the last time Michael Young (still trying to get used to calling him this) have snipe from the base of a ruck or maul? His game has become so predictable and easy to defend. He did have one good run but that was collecting a loose ball from their possession and he isn't afraid to to put his body on the line when needing to make a tackle and he tracks back well so I just wish this box kicking issue can be resolved. Of course it help if the chase was 100% better.
I am feeling rather flat this morning and thinking we will finish 11th again rather than 10th and so really no further forward this season.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2016:03:05:07:17:26 by DJMc.
Don't read too much into that little title. It came to me this morning while I was glumly eating my porridge. As everyone above has mentioned I was really dissapointed last night marching away from KP.
The cold light of day and reading Leipziger's synopsis of the match have mellowed my thoughts though. The Falcons looked tired from my perspective in the North Stand. As said we didn't ever look like breaking their defense, due to both points of not being able to create anything and a very solid performance from the away team. Their backs looked a lot bigger and stronger than ours.
The box kicking was drawing some flak from a few in the North Stand - especially one guy who probably has a few too many beers at every match and always prefers to shout negatives instead of encouragement. Personally, I'm not that bothered about the kicking - if it get us territory then its fair enough. What does bother me is the seemingly poor kick chase. I noticed it at the Saints game also. The chasing players never seem to get anywhere near to the catcher. It didn't appear that they were running flat out to try and hit the recipient as the ball comes down.
I don't know if this is part of a defensive strategy or not but it looked poor from my point of view. Surely we should be trying to retain possession from these moves?
The lineout looked solid all the way through the game - especially the second half when we had pressure in their 22 leading to our try.
In all, though, we probably should have stolen it at the death. The conversion was a bit of a shocker and I'm sure many of us thought we could have probably done better. It is very easy to say that when being stood on the terrace though and you have to give some sympathy for the kicker being under that pressure at the end of a close game.
Overall it was very dissapointing but let's not forget that losing bonus point we accumulated which hopefully will move us another point further away from LI if Bath do their job later today!
It's a trick...get an axe.
No opinion on whether Watson's card was correct, I couldn't really see the positions of other players live or on the screen, but it was a penalty.
With 7 games to go I reckon they will need to win 3 and pick up bonuses, as I can see us winning again and also Worcester. It means they have to double their season's tally from the first 70% of games. We had the same situation when we went down, but gave it a good go - hence why I won't write them off.
Probably will be petty fruitless at Exeter though after they lost to Tigers. That is no reflection on our side, more an indication of Exeter ' s form this season.
There seems to be nothing worse at the moment than watching our 9 put his hands on the ball at a ruck and then stretching a long leg out behind him.
However, that seems to be the game plan