DEAN RICHARDS has challenged promising new signing Ollie Steadman to make the most of his potential and become a real Newcastle Falcons gem.

After monitoring the performances of the young No 8 for Tynedale this season, Richards has moved to offer the player a deal until the end of the campaign.

It is a terrific move for the 21-year-old, who has been urged to show he can handle the step up and help the Kingston Park outfit finish off the job of promotion.

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Falcons’ director of rugby Richards said: “I have watched him a number of times for Tynedale and I have been very impressed with him.

“We have given him a fantastic opportunity here and it will be interesting to see how he fairs at this level. He is a good ball carrier, a good footballer and he understands the game.”

Falcons, whose home date with Cornish Pirates was postponed on Friday night due to the weather, are 16 points clear at the top of the Championship and look certain to seal a top-flight return.

And Steadman is desperate to enjoy the run-in and show he has the attributes to cope with the step up from National League.

The former England Under- 18s and 20s player said: “I am really looking forward to the challenge of playing for Newcastle Falcons.

“It will obviously be a big step from playing National League rugby, and I cannot wait to get out onto the pitch and show that I am good enough to play at this level.”

The Falcons’ Championship game against Leeds Carnegie on February 10, meanwhile, has been switched to be played as Otley at 12pm.

Blaydon’s hopes of closing the gap on National League One leaders Ealing Trailfinders suffered a blow over the weekend.

While Ealing’s trip to Fylde was postponed, the Tyneside club were unable to close the seven point gap at the top by losing at third-placed Esher 29-14.

It was the second successive blow to Blaydon’s promotion hopes and a defeat looked on the cards after Esher dominated a first half after a thirdminute Pat O’Grady try.

After the break Blaydon did well to recover from a 17-point deficit. Scrum-half Jonny Burn grabbed his first try for the club and Chris Wearmouth drove and touched down a second.

After Andrew Baggett had converted both efforts Blaydon’s comeback was almost complete but then he missed a third kick which would have made things really interesting.

Instead Esher counter attacked and never looked back, dominating the last quarter of an hour and claiming a comfortable win.