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Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Bates rues Newcastle injury toll

Steve Bates
Bates has been left to struggle with injuries to key players this season

Newcastle Falcons head coach Steve Bates believes injuries are taking their toll on his over-stretched squad this season.

Bates lost Ed Williamson and Russell Winter to injury for Sunday's 24-8 defeat by London Irish and Bates has rued his side's lack of cover.

"We've suffered a number of crucial injuries and we missed Carl [Hayman] today," he told BBC Radio Newcastle.

"We're a little bit stretched at the moment," the ex-Borders coach added.

Bates has been forced to cope without two high-profile stars in England centre Jamie Noon and Jonny Wilkinson, who remains sidelined with a dislocated knee.

And with young, inexperienced players such as fly-half Rory Clegg and rugby union newcomer Danny Williams in the side, Bates believes his players lacked the collective experience and power of their opponents.

"Most of what we saw was down to the physicality in the game," he said.

"We had to commit too many people in the breakdown which left us a bit short in numbers occasionally.

"The ball was slow which allowed them to dominate us in their defence and you've got to give them credit for that.

"They came and made life very difficult."

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