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Newcastle Falcons team to play Saracens

Newcastle Falcons have picked a homegrown blend for Sunday’s Aviva Premiership trip to Saracens, with 10 of the starting XV having come through the club’s academy.

All but one of the match-day 23 are English-qualified, Taione Vea the exception as the in-form Tongan keeps his place at tight-head prop.
 
Will Welch skippers a side showing five changes from the one which defeated London Irish in their last outing – a result which leaves the Falcons seven points clear of the Exiles at the foot of the table going into the penultimate round of the season.
 
Front-row coach Micky Ward said: “Spirits are pretty high in the camp but the job isn’t finished yet.
 
“We are not mathematically safe but we are in a far better position than London Irish, and a far better position than we were a couple of weeks ago. We are nearly over the line and it is down to us now. It is in our own hands, we can decide it this weekend by taking points at Saracens and putting it beyond all doubt.
 
“Mental strength is something we talk about a lot here. It is not just the physical side, it is sticking to our systems under pressure, doing the things we talk about during the week and making sure we put into place the plans we have laid. We did a lot of that against London Irish, we knew where they would attack us and we did a pretty decent job of coping with that in difficult conditions.”
 
Well aware of the challenge which awaits them at the league leaders but determined to show no fear, Ward added: “Technically we need to stick to our systems, and we have got to go down there with a mind-set and an intensity to really just fly into them.
 
“I don’t think Saracens will respect us as much as they do an Exeter and those kinds of teams, and our forward pack has got to pile into them. We know the scrum will be a big area, we need to match them there confrontationally and also in the maul and the breakdown.
 
“We can have the best attacking shape in the world but if we can’t win the ball at the set-piece and breakdown it is a waste of time. We need to be physically and mentally on it, and basically just smash into them at every opportunity.”
 
Newcastle Falcons team to play Saracens (Sunday May 1, Allianz Park, 3.15pm, live on BT Sport)
 
15 Simon Hammersley
14 Alex Tait
13 Chris Harris
12 Adam Powell
11 Marcus Watson
10 Craig Willis
9 Michael Young
 
1 Rob Vickers
2 George McGuigan
3 Taione Vea
4 Mouritz Botha
5 Sean Robinson
6 Will Welch (captain)
7 Dan Temm
8 Mark Wilson
 
Replacements
 
16 Rob Hawkins
17 Alex Rogers
18 Andrew Foster
19 Calum Green
20 Richard Mayhew
21 Ruki Tipuna
22 Tom Catterick
23 Tom Penny
 

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