Newcastle Falcons have announced an experienced team for their European Rugby Challenge Cup round four match against Connacht Rugby on Sunday (KO 3pm), making a total of six changes to the starting XV from last Friday in Galway.
With the qualification spots in the pool finely balanced after an unexpected win for Enisei STM over Brive Correze last Saturday, Director of Rugby Dean Richards’ side boasts over 1199 club appearances in league and cups, as they look to swing momentum back in their favour.
The changes are split equally between the pack and the backline, with Marcus Watson moving up from his replacement spot last weekend to the left wing, Alex Tait taking over the right wing berth from Dan Marshall and Belisario Agulla taking the outside centre shirt from Juan Pablo Socino.
Remaining unchanged from the round three match, Simon Hammersley again takes the full-back jersey, while inside centre Chris Harris will look to link with Craig Willis who makes a second European start at fly-half and will form a half back pairing with Tongan international scrum-half Sonatane Takulua.
In the pack, Alex Rogers and Scott Lawson retain their positions in the front row as Scottish International tighthead Jon Welsh comes in for Tongan international Taione Vea, who moves onto the bench.
In the second row, Mouritz Botha moves from the five shirt into the four with one of the stars of the season to date, Sean Robinson returning to partner the former England international in the engine room.
Completing the line-up, captain Will Welch and Daniel Temm provide a pair of dynamic threats on the blindside and openside flank respectively, as Ally Hogg retains the No.8 shirt.
The replacement bench sees George McGuigan, Rob Vickers and Vea provide front row options, while Calum Green and last week’s skipper Richard Mayhew cover the second and back rows.
Michael Young, Tom Catterick and Juan Pablo Socino complete the Falcons line up.
Newcastle Falcons squad
versus Connacht Rugby – Sunday 20th December KO 3pm
15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Belisario Agulla, 12 Chris Harris, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 1 Alex Rogers, 2 Scott Lawson, 3 Jon Welsh, 4 Mouritz Botha, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Will Welch (C), 7 Daniel Temm, 8 Ally Hogg
16 George McGuigan, 17 Rob Vickers, 18 Taione Vea, 19 Calum Green, 20 Richard Mayhew, 21 Michael Young, 22 Tom Catterick, 23 Juan Pablo Socino