HE readily admits he does not know when his players will be in action again, but if there is to be a lengthy suspension of the domestic rugby season because of the coronavirus outbreak, Dean Richards is delighted his Newcastle Falcons side signed off in style with a 41-0 thrashing of Bedford Blues on Friday night.

With all mass gatherings expected to be banned in the next few days, it remains to be seen when or if the current Championship season is played to a conclusion, but Falcons could hardly have done more in the games that have been played so far, racking up 22 successive victories in all competitions.

Richards’ side are currently 13 points clear of their closest rivals in the table, with Friday’s seven-try romp providing further proof of the extent to which they are head and shoulders above the rest of the teams in the second tier.

“There was a class difference between the two sides, to be fair,” said Richards, after Falcons triumphed thanks to tries from George McGuigan (2), Logovi’i Mulipola, Michael Young, Nemani Nagusa, Tim Swiel and a penalty try. “Everyone played a part, and I thought the boys were outstanding.

“Even the guys who came on played a really big role for us – Tim Swiel scoring with his first touch, for example – and Joel Hodgson doing well at scrum-half, to name just a couple.

“We looked at Bedford, appreciated where their strengths and weaknesses were and said let’s just go and take them on. We gave the boys absolute licence to just go for it, and they took full advantage. There was a gulf in class between the two packs, if I’m honest, and we built on that.”

The reverse fixture at Bedford had been one of Falcons’ toughest assignments of the season, with Richards’ players feeling they had been subjected to some rough treatment as they ground out an 11-6 success in driving rain.

As a result, there was an obvious edge to Friday’s rematch, with Richards conceding that an occasional incident might have overstepped the mark.

“The boys didn’t need any motivation, especially after what happened down there in the away leg,” said Richards. “I wouldn’t say there was bad blood after some of the things that went on around that match, but there was certainly a point to prove. We did a job on Bedford, and there was a reason behind that.

“There was an atmosphere out there, and to be honest with you a few of their boys were lucky to stay on the field. I’ll leave that up to the citing commissioner to have a look at, which I’m sure they will do, and it was a real shame that there appeared to be a few cheap shots going in.”

A healthy crowd packed into Kingston Park, and Richards was pleased to have sent the Falcons fans home happy in what could prove to be the final game played at the ground for quite some time.

Two games took place in the Championship on Saturday, with Cornish Pirates and Coventry recording victories at Ampthill and Doncaster respectively, but there is a strong expectation that matches in the second tier will be called off ahead of this weekend’s proposed round of matches.

“Any decision that gets made regarding this season - you’d like to think it gets made for the right reasons,” said Richards.

“You’ve got to consider the safety of people, be it players, supporters, staff and everyone around the whole thing.

“What will be, will be. It’s not a great situation that any of us are in at the moment.

“But you have to trust that any decision will be made with the interests of safety foremost in mind.”