Mark Laycock: “We struggled to get out of that arm wrestle against them.”


Newcastle Falcons Interim Head Coach Mark Laycock believes his side were strangled out of the game due to Sale Sharks strength.

The Falcons were beaten 54-12 at the AJ Bell Stadium on Saturday afternoon, and Laycock believes the home side played their game plan to a tee.

He said: “I thought they did exceptionally well at just strangling us out the game.

“They execute very well.

“And they were pretty much at full strength today.

“They kept it simple and they were clinical in converting their opportunities, far more than they were.”

Despite the large scoreline, Laycock believes his side aren’t massively away from the level of 2nd place Sale Sharks.

“I don’t know about golf in class,” he said.

“I think if you look at what’s happened in the last three or four months with both teams, they’ve been on an upward curve.

“We’ve been on a downward curve and I think that has a big factor to play.

“I did feel that they were very physical and we struggled to get out of that arm wrestle against them, which is something that we talked about in the week and we unfortunately weren’t able to deliver it tonight.”

Laycock picked George Ford out from the Sale team, who played his first home game for the Manchester-based side after his summer arrival from Leicester Tigers.

“I think it shows that with the balance that they’ve got with the carrying threats and kicking, I thought George Ford was outstanding, put us under huge pressure in the back field,” he said.

This was the last game of the regular Gallagher Premiership season, and although Sale have a home semi-final against Leicester Tigers to look forward to, Newcastle will spend the off season now thinking about how they can finish higher than rock bottom next season.

Laycock, who came in as interim head coach after Dave Walder stepped down as Director of Rugby in March, is looking forward to this challenge and how he and his coaching staff will set the team up.

He said: “We’ll regroup.

“There’s a lot of things for us to learn and take forward and the group that we’ve got next year is very new.

“So that’d be a big challenge for us to look at what we’ve got in terms of our strengths and try and work out what combinations would be best for us and how we create it, to maximize that.”

The former Falcons academy player was keen to stress how much potential there is in this Falcons side.

He said: “Yeah, we can build on that, we can improve.

“There’s tons of things and there’s loads of young players who have got huge amounts of potential.”

Young 20-year-old Argentinian International, Pedro Rubiolo, scored the opening try of the game and Laycock believes he is a star in the making.

“Young Pedro was outstanding again today and he’s definitely a one for the future for us,” he said.

“And there’s a number of other guys as well who are getting better and better week in, week out.

“We’ve got to just look at where we utilize them within our game plan next year.”

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