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Preview: Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks

Preview: Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks

Kingston Park will host some of the first Aviva Premiership Rugby action of the season, and visiting skipper Josh Beaumont is hoping to make a mark on his old stomping ground.

The 23-year-old will lead Sale Sharks for the first time as full-time skipper against his former club Newcastle Falcons, where he spent a year whilst at Durham University.

The contests between the sides last term were fiercely tight, with the first ending in a stalemate at 15-15, before the Sharks edged out Newcastle 21-15 away from home on the final day of the season.

And while England prospect Beaumont is relishing the thought of taking on some familiar faces in the North East, he admits coming away with an opening victory is one of the most important steps of the season.

“It’s a winnable game for us, but I had a season up at Newcastle when I was at University and it is such a tough place to go and win – especially early on in the season,” he said.

“Both teams will be really going for it which should make for a great game on the 4G pitch up there, hopefully we can come away with a win.

“There’s a few lads still up there from when I was at the club. Will Welch, Mark Wilson, and then a few of my old uni teammates as well in Simon Hammersley and Sean Robinson.

“So it’s always nice to go up there and play against them, but hopefully I’ll be the one celebrating after the game.”

The history books make for interesting reading between the sides, and it is anyone’s guess who will take the points in this clash.

The omens are good for the hosts, whose last win on the opening weekend of a new Aviva Premiership season came when Sale visited Kingston Park back in 2007.

But Newcastle have not beaten the Sharks in the league since September 2013 and the Manchester outfit have won on each of their last three visits to Kingston Park in the Aviva Premiership.

And Ally Hogg is desperate to change that statistic.

He said: “We’re definitely looking forward to getting back to it. We’ve had a good couple of wins so far in preseason and we feel ready now for Sale.

“Starting off at home is always good, and we had some good contests with Sale last year – a draw and then a narrow defeat in the final game of the season.

“Obviously we want to perform well in our home games. Winning as many of those as possible and making ourselves difficult to beat at home is going to be key to our development.”

Kingston Park, 8pm

Referee: Greg Garner (101st Premiership game).

Assistant Referees: John Meredith & Wayne Falla.

TMO: Trevor Fisher.

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