Newcastle Falcons coach Dean Richards says he never doubted his team would beat Bristol despite a second-half fightback from the visitors.
Newcastle edged out struggling Bristol for a narrow 19-14 victory at Kingston Park after a strong first-half performance.
The hosts scored their first try of the game just four minutes after kick-off through Juan Pablo Socino, who latched onto a handling error to put the ball over the line in the corner. Further tries from skipper Will Welch and Joel Hodgson ensured the Falcons went into the interval in full control, with Bristol showing no sign of reply.
But they awoke from their slumber in style in the second half, scoring two tries in quick succession through Jon Fisher and Mitch Eadie, but it wasn’t enough as the Falcons held on to move into sixth in the Premiership Rugby table.
Richards admitted it wasn’t as convincing a result as he wanted but paid tribute to their performance in the first half.
“If you’d asked me 15 minutes before kick-off would I take a 19-14 win, the answer would have been yes, but I’m sitting here now slightly frustrated and so is the team,” Richards said.
“We’re in the top half of the Premiership Rugby table with three wins and a couple of losing bonus points, but we do have a lot of injuries to key players and were a little frustrated rather than happy. We played so well in the first half and could have scored two or three more tries and we could have done with those in the second half because we took our foot off the gas.
“They had two chances and took them both and our kicking went off a little and that was probably the root cause of the problem. I never thought we would ever lose but we could well have thrown it away.”
Bristol coach Andy Robinson was pleased with his side’s performance but admits he was disappointed they couldn’t get the result they wanted.
“I thought we started reasonably well but we lost our discipline and it was a bit of an own goal when Newcastle scored their first try and that gave them the momentum,” he said.
“In the second half, we started to get up off the line, made our tackles and gained momentum. We scored two really good tries but unfortunately just could not keep that momentum going. That second half was pleasing in that it proved we do have the talent to succeed in the Premiership.
“We did some good things here today and in the opening game of the season, but we wanted at least one win from the first six games of the season and we’re frustrated we haven’t done that.”