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Newcastle Falcons team to face Bath Rugby

Newcastle Falcons

Newcastle Falcons have made a single change to their starting XV for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership trip to Bath Rugby (kick-off 3pm).

Alex Rogers comes into the side in place of Taione Vea, the Tongan prop who was injured during last Friday’s 19-17 opening-night victory over Sale Sharks. Rogers slots in on the loose-head side as Scottish international Jon Welsh slides across to tight-head, Newcastle’s starting team otherwise unchanged as Will Welch once again leads the side.

Sean Robinson comes on to the bench after undergoing a shoulder operation at the end of last season, Bath old boy Michael Young also added to the list of replacements against his former club.

Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said ahead of the West Country clash: “Our away form is one of the things we have talked about. We didn’t win one away in the league last season and we know we need to alleviate that. We feel we are much better equipped this year, especially when you consider we had 19 or 20 injuries last summer plus a load of guys away at the World Cup. This time we are in a far better position with a much stronger squad and far fewer injuries.”

Going into the game with momentum behind them following an unbeaten pre-season and an opening-night victory, the Falcons boss added: “It was our first round-one win in the Aviva Premiership for nine years, so it was pretty important in many ways.

“The players were very focused in terms of making it happen, we nearly blew it in the end but we played some pretty good rugby at times. That is the pleasing thing, and if you can play at 60% and still come away with the win you can do so in the knowledge there is so much more to come from the team. We felt the margin of the scoreline didn’t really reflect the dominance we had. That is no disrespect to Sale, who are a quality side, and on their day they can really turn it on.”

Bath, too, were winners in week one, Richards saying: “Bath had a good result last weekend by beating Northampton away, they have a new coaching team led by Todd Blackadder and a side full of stardust.

“They have spent a lot of money and are looking pretty strong, it will be a tough game for us but we should have won down there towards the end of last season. We were a drop-goal away that night and we beat them up at our place, so they don’t hold any fear for us. It’s just a case of turning it on, understanding what we need to do and making it happen on the field.

“You only have to look at our results last year in terms of how many games we lost in the last few minutes, or in which we were only a couple of points adrift. Winning those games is the most important thing, and if we do then we will climb the ladder pretty quickly. The players all understand that, they are switched on to what is needed and are putting in the work.”

Newcastle Falcons team to face Bath Rugby (Saturday, 3pm, the Rec):

15 Simon Hammersley
14 Vereniki Goneva
13 Chris Harris
12 Juan Pablo Socino
11 Sinoti Sinoti
10 Mike Delany
9 Sonatane Takulua

1 Alex Rogers
2 Scott Lawson
3 Jon Welsh
4 Calum Green
5 Will Witty
6 Evan Olmstead
7 Will Welch (captain)
8 Mark Wilson

Replacements:

16 Ben Sowrey
17 Sam Lockwood
18 Paddy Ryan
19 Sean Robinson
20 Ally Hogg
21 Michael Young
22 Joel Hodgson
23 Dominic Waldouck

Referee: Ian Tempest

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