sport

Richards riled by Falcons show

Dean Richards described Newcastle's first-half display as "one of the worst I have ever seen" after the Falcons lost at London Irish.

Visitors Newcastle trailed 40-12 at half-time, before putting in a much improved performance in a scoreless second half to lose the Premiership match by the same margin.

"It was incredible, we lacked any composure or intensity," Richards said.

"Some of our boys thought we are already safe from relegation, we conceded the first three tries through our own mistakes and were always chasing the game.

"London Irish had nothing to lose, we knew they were going to throw the ball around from the off and we had to cope better than we did."

Newcastle made three substitutions at half-time, including the introduction of half-backs Mike Blair and Joel Hodgson who gave more direction to the team, but they could not add to the four first-half penalties kicked by Rory Clegg.

"I made it perfectly clear what I thought at half-time as the boys knew they played badly," Richards said. "In the second half there was a lot of endeavour but we still lacked structure and composure."

Irish produced a blistering first-half performance to score six tries, with Andy Fenby scoring a hat-trick. Eamonn Sheridan, Fergus Mulchrone and Gerard Ellis were also on the score-sheet with James O'Connor kicking five conversions to complete the rout.

Home director of rugby Brian Smith was delighted with his side's effort.

"We definitely got a flyer, with charge-downs etc, but I'm pleased we went on with it," Smith said.

"I'm actually happier with our second-half performance as we put in a massive defensive effort not to bleed a try or two which is difficult when you are that far in front."

Irish now face difficult away trips to Northampton and Gloucester which Smith accepted would be a tough task.

"We are safe but can't get in Europe so it's an unusual situation," he said, "but the signs are good as we are working hard for each other.

"To lose James O'Connor with a hamstring problem 10 minutes from the end was a blow. We will have to assess him but Tom Homer is a ready-made replacement should we lose James."