After sealing their first Aviva Premiership Rugby victory on the road in 24 months, Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards has backed his side to be a match for anyone else in the competition.
Richards’ side put in a sterling defensive effort to keep Gloucester Rugby to just a single try at Kingsholm as they ran out 18-13 victors.
Dominic Waldouck and Ross Moriarty swapped first-half tries as both teams went into the break tied at ten apiece.
But Alex Tait’s second-half try and a Mike Delany penalty were enough to seal the victory as Falcons restricted Gloucester to just a Greig Laidlaw penalty in the second period.
And Richards was understandably elated to see his side show the grit he has wanted from them.
“I am pleased. We have come so close to winning away from home in the last year and have not quite achieved it,” said Richards.
“The mistakes we were making last year, we weren’t making quite as many against Gloucester.
“We are quite combative and will tackle our hearts out. If we take our chances, as we did against Gloucester, we should be competitive with most people.
“Everybody put their body on the line, which was nice and, if Gloucester did make a line-break, our scrum was there to stop them.
“We just took our chances having soaked up the pressure in the first 20 minutes of the second half, we hit back with that try [Tait] down the right-hand side and you have to take those chances.
“I think Gloucester had a few more chances than us in that game but you have got to take them.”
The loss for Gloucester meant Falcons leapfrogged them in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table, with both sides level on nine points.
David Humphreys’ side went into the game with a win, loss and draw in their opening three fixtures, and the director of rugby was left ruing missed chances.
“Last week against Sale, we felt we took a big step forward and were able to find a way to close out and win the game,” he said.
“Today, we dominated territory and possession in their 22 but dropped the ball and kicked the ball away too many times – things we haven’t done so far this season.
“In this competition, these opportunities have to be taken and credit to Newcastle, they took their opportunities.
“At key moments in the game, we lost line-outs when we could have put Newcastle under pressure. They defended and absorbed brilliantly.
“I don’t think today’s defeat comes down to a mental thing but there were areas of our game that came down to simple errors.
“That’s what lost us the game. We weren’t able to convert the pressure we had into points and that’s the most disappointing aspect to the game.”
Gloucester Rugby: Marshall (Evans 75), Sharples, Scott (Twelvetrees 50), M Atkinson, H Purdy, B Burns (Hook 50), Heinz (Laidlaw 56), Thomas (Orr 50), Hibbard (Dawidiuk 53), Afoa (Doran-Jones 65), Savage, Galarza (Latta 59), Moriarty, Rowan, Morgan
Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley (Agulla 32-40) , Tait, Waldouck, Socino, Sinoti, Delany (Hodgson 72), Takulua (Young 52), Vickers (Rogers 69), Lawson, Welsh, Green (Witty 73), Olmstead, Wilson, Welch, Hogg
Pens: Burns, Laidlaw
Tries: Waldouck, Tait
Referee: Dean Richards