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Newcastle Falcons team to face Harlequins

Newcastle Falcons have made two changes for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership trip to Harlequins.

Sinoti Sinoti makes his third league start of the season, Alex Tait switching to full-back as the Samoan slots in on the wing.
 
The only other change comes in the pack where Ally Hogg’s inclusion sees Sean Robinson drop to the bench, Mark Wilson pushing forward into the second-row as Hogg starts at No 8.
 
Japanese international Kensuke Hatakeyama is among the replacements in the week he helped the club’s second string into the semi-finals of the Aviva A-League, the tight-head playing in Monday’s 24-15 triumph at Gloucester.
 
Will Welch once again captains the Falcons, who are in search of an Aviva Premiership double over Harlequins after beating the capital club 26-19 when they last met at Kingston Park on January 31.
 
Head coach John Wells said: "We are confident we can beat Harlequins. We have done it on the last two occasions we have played them.
 
"We are not stupid in thinking we can just rock up and roll them over. They have their stars back and there is a massive difference between the Quins team we played in January to the one we will face down there. But like us a little bit, they haven’t won a lot of games recently. That does affect your confidence, and in some ways there is more pressure on them.
 
"The feeling at the start of the season was they had a squad which would be competing for the top four, and there is a lot of pressure on them to get it right. We can go down knowing we are playing a side capable of producing good football, but knowing that if we strangle them, make them do the things they don’t like doing, we are in with a chance of getting a result."
 
He added: "Harlequins have won twice as many games as we have, they have conceded almost as many points as we have but the key is they score a load of points pretty much every time they go out and play.
 
"They have got all their rock stars back now, and there is no doubt they are a different side when those guys play. We have shown we can compete with a Quins team which came up to Kingston Park missing a little bit of sparkle, but we have got to now show we can go down there and compete with a team which is putting a lot of emphasis on these international guys and their abilities.
 
"They are probably quite an individual side in the sense that they do rely on these guys to make things happen for them. Most teams do that, and we have got to do whatever we can to close them down when they have the ball. They play a unique brand of football which, when it works, is fantastic. But when it is closed down and stopped teams can score, because offloads go to the floor and turnovers happen. There are therefore opportunities out there to use Harlequins’ style of play to our advantage.
 
The Falcons go into the 3pm kick-off placed 11th in the Aviva Premiership table, Wells saying: "We didn’t plan for this at the beginning of the season. We wanted to be giving people problems at the other end of the league, but we are where we are. We have to deal with it.
 
"We are playing some good stuff at times, but so are other teams. Lots of points are being scored around the league because sides are producing decent stuff on the field, and whatever people say about the Aviva Premiership, at this time of year when teams get their Six Nations players back, the quality and the intensity goes up another notch. There is something to be had at all ends of the table, whether it is top four, chasing a European place, avoiding relegation or whatever. There is something to be had for everybody, and that is the beauty as well as why it is so unbelievably tough.
 
"In terms of our own guys they are keeping themselves away from the doom and gloom scenarios because they can recognise that for vast tracts of the game they are doing good things. They are putting good pressure on the opposition, but then we will just have a magic five minutes where we miss a couple of tackles or handling opportunities, and we’ve blown a score or let one in. Everything is there for us to do well, it is just being accurate, precise and concentrating for that length of time. When we have done that we have got results more often than not, but this is a vicious league. Get one thing wrong and you may not get another chance."
 
Newcastle Falcons team to play Harlequins (Saturday, 3pm, the Twickenham Stoop)
 
15 Alex Tait
14 Marcus Watson
13 Chris Harris
12 Adam Powell
11 Sinoti Sinoti
10 Mike Delany
9 Michael Young
 
1 Rob Vickers
2 George McGuigan  
3 Taione Vea
4 Mark Wilson
5 Calum Green
6 Nili Latu
7 Will Welch (captain)
8 Ally Hogg
 
Replacements:
16 Scott Lawson
17 Alex Rogers
18 Kensuke Hatakeyama
19 Sean Robinson
20 Simon Hammersley
21 Sonatane Takulua
22 Craig Willis
23 Belisario Agulla

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