Newcastle Falcons have made three changes ahead of Saturday’s Aviva Premiership trip to Exeter Chiefs (kick-off 3pm).
Chris Harris replaces Juan Pablo Socino in the centres, the other two changes coming in the forward pack as Evan Olmstead and Scott Wilson slot in for Sean Robinson and Jon Welsh respectively.
As the Falcons head off in search of their first victory at Sandy Park, director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Exeter are a side who play a style of rugby which can hurt us if we get things wrong on the day.
“We know our attacking shape can work and we have shown it in recent games, but it’s the defensive side of the game where we need to show a greater concentration. Our attack has a good shape about it but that doesn’t always count if you’re not sufficiently switched on to the defensive elements of the game. That will be the focus at Exeter on Saturday.”
Having battled back from 14-0 down to defeat Northampton Saints 46-31 last time out, Richards said: “If you look at the first 15 minutes it was torture, it got slightly better until half-time and then it was a pleasure to watch from there onwards.
“That first quarter of an hour was difficult to understand in terms of why we did what we did, but the boys have explained it and gone through it and hopefully it won’t happen again.
“It was a great afternoon and the boys didn’t get into the changing room for some time afterwards because there were so many people wanting autographs and photos. The atmosphere around the ground was great, our crowd are awesome and the players certainly appreciate it. When we win in the manner we did last weekend it is great to be part of, but that’s done now and we have to move on.
“We’d love to come back from Exeter with something and the boys have set themselves that as the target, so let’s go down there and see what we can get.”
With new signings for next season already announced in the form of Maxime Mermoz, DTH van der Merwe and Josh Matavesi, Richards stressed the attractiveness of Newcastle Falcons when the club goes into the market place.
“We play a style of rugby here and have a club culture that people love, and want to be part of,” explained the former England and Lions No 8.
“A lot of people have expressed an interest in joining us, they are excited by our style of play and the infrastructure around the squad. We have looked for players who suit our style, and that does evolve year on year. The guys who have been announced over the past week or so will fit right into that, but between now and then we have some big games to play and we’re not looking beyond those.”
Newcastle Falcons team to face Exeter Chiefs (Saturday, 3pm, Sandy Park)
15 Alex Tait
14 Vereniki Goneva
13 Chris Harris
12 Dominic Waldouck
11 Sinoti Sinoti
10 Joel Hodgson
9 Sonatane Takulua
1 Rob Vickers
2 Kyle Cooper
3 Scott Wilson
4 Calum Green
5 Evan Olmstead
6 Mark Wilson
7 Will Welch (captain)
8 Nili Latu
16 Ben Sowrey
17 Ben Harris
18 David Wilson
19 Glen Young
20 Callum Chick
21 Sam Egerton
22 Mike Delany
23 Fred Burdon
Referee: Ian Tempest.