TOP BAR - Fixtures

Newcastle Falcons team to face Leicester Tigers

Ally Hogg comes into Newcastle Falcons’ starting line-up for Sunday’s Aviva Premiership visit of Leicester Tigers, director of rugby Dean Richards making three changes for the 3pm kick-off at Kingston Park Stadium.

Hogg is drafted in at No 8 in a reshuffled back five which sees Mark Wilson move to blind-side flanker, with Evan Olmstead pushing up to the second row in place of Will Witty. Dominic Waldouck makes his first Aviva Premiership start for the club at outside centre following the ankle injury suffered by Chris Harris at Bath last weekend, the only other personnel change seeing prop Sam Lockwood make his first league start for the club following his summer arrival from Jersey.

Keen to move on from defeat at Bath, Richards said: “We have talked about it, we have gone through it and it’s one of those things whereby we know we are far better than we showed in that game. We needed to react at certain times to allay the issues around Vereniki Goneva’s yellow card, we as coaches didn’t offer the right advice to the players on the field and the players didn’t make the right decisions.

“As a consequence we went three scores down, there is a responsibility all round in that respect but providing you understand what went wrong it’s easier to sort out. When you don’t know why it went wrong, that’s when the problems arise. For us it is a mind-set issue which we have sorted out this week, and a couple of other issues we have been working on.

“We have put the Bath game to bed now, and you look forward. You can’t look at it any other way. Eight tries to one speaks for itself and nobody is hiding from that. You have to address it, and we have, but there also comes a point where you have to put it behind you. We have now done that and are looking forward, because if you fail to do that you begin to have self-doubts.”

The Falcons were 26-14 victors the last time Leicester visited Kingston Park Stadium in February, Richards having played more than 300 games for the East Midlands club before coaching them to four Premiership titles and a pair of European Cups.

He said: “Leicester for me these days is just another game. They have been top-four finishers for most years out of the last 20, they have a consistency which is probably unrivalled and we know what they are about. We look forward to pitting our wits against the best, we beat them up here last season and even in the game down there we felt we got the rough end of the deal with some of the decisions. Having defeated them up here relatively recently we certainly don’t fear them, but it’s making sure we pick ourselves up after last week and deliver a performance.

“Like ourselves, Leicester will also be smarting after losing at home to Wasps last weekend. I spent a long time down there and I know exactly what they will come up and bring. It will be an intense, physical battle, it will be a great game for us and we know at Bath we didn’t perform anywhere near our best. What better team to turn it on against than Leicester, and we know what we are facing.

“They are playing a little bit more of an expensive game this season but, at the same time, you know what any Tigers team is going to bring. Every breakdown, every point of contact will be physical, and everybody in the country knows that. Having Niki Goneva and Opeti Fonua here has been useful in a way from a preparation standpoint, although Leicester’s game has evolved since last season. It will bring different challenges, but we are ready for that.”

Tickets for Sunday’s 3pm kick-off are available by calling 0871 226 6060. The Aviva Premiership clash forms the first half of a cross-code double header, with Newcastle Thunder rugby league taking on North Wales Crusaders at 5.15pm in the Kingstone Press League 1 Shield final. Supporters with tickets for the Falcons v Leicester game are welcome to stay inside the stadium and watch the rugby league final at no additional cost.

Newcastle Falcons team v Leicester Tigers (Sunday, 3pm, Kingston Park Stadium)

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

1 Sam Lockwood
2 Scott Lawson
3 Jon Welsh
4 Calum Green
5 Evan Olmstead
6 Mark Wilson
7 Will Welch (captain)
8 Ally Hogg

16 Ben Sowrey
17 Rob Vickers
18 Paddy Ryan
19 Will Witty
20 Dan Temm
21 Michael Young
22 Joel Hodgson
23 Belisario Agulla

Referee: JP Doyle

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