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Match Reaction: Newcastle Falcons 19 Bath Rugby 14

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Newcastle Falcons secured their first Aviva Premiership Rugby victory of the season after seeing off Bath Rugby on Saturday and director of rugby Dean Richards wants to build on that momentum.

Craig Willis slotted two penalties in the last ten minutes at a wet and windy Kingston Park as the Falcons beat their West County opponents at home for the first time since 2003.

Guy Mercer’s try had put the visitors – runners’ up last year in the league – in front early on but Rob Vickers' score and the inconsistent boot of Willis opened up a 13-8 half-time lead for Richards’ men.

After the interval Rhys Priestland kicked Bath back in front before Willis held his nerve late on to condemn Bath to a fifth loss from the first eight games of the season.

Victory moves the Falcons off the bottom of the table and above London Irish but they will face the Exiles next weekend and Richards has warned his side to maintain their focus.

"It's a great start to the year. I thought we deserved the win,” he said.

"Okay, we missed a few points, but we came up with the goods and deserved it. The boys stuck to their guns and it's probably the first time this season we've done that.

"Now we need to take that into the game at London Irish and build on it."

For Bath the defeat was tough to take as Ford opted to leave a number of his internationals like George Ford, Anthony Watson and Francois Louw on the bench.

But despite introducing his big names in the second half it was the Falcons who closed out victory thanks to the nerveless kicking of the 20-year-old Willis.

And head coach Ford admits his side need to take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror after slipping to a narrow defeat.

"Credit to Newcastle – they defended really well but our players really need to have a look at themselves and question whether they were really ready to play,” he said.

"It was wet and windy, but then it often is here. We have to look forward but we also have to be truthful and it's all about responsibility and you cannot just expect to turn up and win.

"The players are back in on Tuesday and I expect them to hold up their hands, talk about it and then move on."

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Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley (Catterick, 33 (B Agulla, 40)); Tait, Harris, Socino, M Watson; Willis, Young; Vickers, McGuigan (Lawson, 61), Rogers (Ryan, 61), Wilson, Robinson, Hogg, Welch, Latu (Botha, 61)
Replacements not used:  Clever, Dawson
 
Bath Rugby: Homer; H Agulla (A Watson, 71), Joseph, Devoto, Banahan; Priestland (Ford, 60), Matawalu (Evans, 39); Auterac (Lahiff, 58), Batty, Thomas (Wilson, 56), Garvey, Ewels, Houston, Mercer (Louw, 60), Denton (58).
Replacements not used: Dunn
 
Scorers
 
Newcastle Falcons
Tries: Vickers
Conversion: Willis
Penalties: Willis 4
 
Bath Rugby
Tries: Mercer
Penalties: Priestland 3
 
Referee: Matthew Carley
Attendance: 7,075
 

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