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Preview: Newcastle Falcons v Bath Rugby

Preview: Newcastle Falcons v Bath Rugby

Captain Will Welch hopes Kingston Park does not fling its arms wide open to two former faces as Newcastle Falcons begin their return in the Aviva Premiership against Bath Rugby on Friday night.

After a season-long hiatus in the Championship Newcastle are back at English rugby’s top table again and have the honour of kicking off the new season as they welcome Bath to Kingston Park.

And with a quick glance to the away bench it will seem as though the Falcons have never been away with head coach Gary Gold and first team coach Mike Ford returning to Kingston Park with Bath.

Gold and Ford nearly pulled off the great escape with the Falcons in the 2011/12 Aviva Premiership as they arrived with the club nine points adrift, only to see the club relegated by just a single point from London Wasps.

But Welch insists Friday night is no time to recollect and wants the Kingston Park faithful to ensure their return is not a happy one.

“Our first game will be tough,” Welch said. “We know Gary and Mike from when they were up with us and they are a good set of coaches.

“We played them in our first pre-season game and they’re a well drilled physical side so they’ll be looking to come up to Newcastle and to make a good start.

“But likewise Newcastle and Kingston Park is one of the toughest place to come in the Premiership and we want to get that first win under our belts.

“I think it’s an advantage being at home first up, especially on a Friday night because it’s not the nicest place to come up at Newcastle.

“Obviously to get that first win will be massive for confidence reasons and we’re looking in good shape and I’m pretty confident we can do it.”

Newcastle Falcons will be buoyed with the knowledge that a newly-promoted Aviva Premiership side has lost a round one game just once since 2007.

However 2007 was also the last time that Newcastle won their season opener as they beat Sale Sharks 33-12 at Kingston Park.

In contrast Bath’s only opening weekend defeat since 2006 came at Gloucester Rugby in 2009, whilst they have not lost at Kingston Park since October 2003.

Having said that Bath's solo away victory in the Premiership since February 2012 came in last season's opening round at Worcester Warriors.

Newcastle's only victory over Bath in their last 16 encounters in all competitions was 27-16 at the Rec on October 24 2009.

And after the likes of Kyle Eastmond, Rob Webber and new recruit Jonathan Joseph shone with England this summer, Bath captain Stuart Hooper is hoping the good times continue to roll into the new campaign.

“I think it was brilliant for all the guys who went away on those tours with their countries and it was a massive opportunity for them to showcase their talents on the international stage,” Hooper said.

“I think they all did fantastically well. And also when you have people going away with England they do come back with that new confidence, they do come back with new ideas and exposure to the game at the highest level and that can only help us as a club.

“Something we look to do more and more is promote our young players and get as many people as possible involved in the national squad.” 

(Kingston Park, 7.45pm)
Live on BT Sport
Wayne Barnes (124th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Robin Goodliffe & Paul Dix. TMO: Trevor Fisher.

For more news, try out Bath Rugby Match Preview Newcastle Falcons
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