Newcastle Falcons name team to face Harlequins
Newcastle Falcons welcome back fit-again lock-forward Will Witty as they prepare for Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership visit of Harlequins.
The 3pm kick-off at Kingston Park Stadium sees the Yorkshireman playing his first game since the Heineken Champions Cup victory over Montpellier on October 21, Newcastle looking to start the calendar year on a high after taking losing bonus points from their last two outings.
A head knock for Toby Flood sees Brett Connon starting at fly-half, the 22-year-old having impressed in his recent Heineken Champions Cup start away to Edinburgh, while a head knock also rules out flanker John Hardie.
Trevor Davison and Kyle Cooper both come into the front row after featuring from the bench last weekend, Tom Arscott starting on the wing in the only other change to the side which took a losing bonus point on Sunday at Bristol.
“As I said immediately after the game we missed a lot of chances, and going back through the footage has only reinforced that impression,” said director of rugby Dean Richards.
“I’d be more upset if we weren’t creating the opportunities to begin with, but we are, and it’s a case of taking the chances that are out there for us. It will slot into place, and we do feel as if results are there for us if we can just take that next step.”
Keen to put right the defeat that an injury-ravaged Falcons suffered at Quins back in November, Richards added: “Our away game at Harlequins was an incredibly frustrating night whereby one disaster led to another, what with Johnny Williams going down injured in the warm-up, having to reshuffle the back line at short notice and then losing Joel Hodgson to a broken leg in the first few minutes.
“Saturday is a totally different thing, our game down there has been put to bed and we’ll run out this weekend in a different frame of mind.”
Acknowledging the threat posed by a Harlequins side coached by one of his former Leicester charges, Paul Gustard, Richards said: “Quins are starting to play some decent rugby and from our own side we’re creating a lot of opportunities, so if we carry on doing that it should be a great game to watch.
“Discipline is key, and we’re not going to throw stones about it because we’ve been guilty ourselves at times. We’ve improved massively in that area since the first six games of the season but you have to stay constantly on top of it, and we’ll be doing so again on Saturday.
“It would be fantastic to start the new year with a win, we don’t feel like we’re far away from doing so and if we get everything right on the day then we’ll come away with the result.”
Tickets for Saturday’s game are available by calling 0871 226 6060.
Newcastle Falcons team to face Harlequins (Saturday, 3pm, Kingston Park Stadium)
15 Simon Hammersley
14 Vereniki Goneva
13 Chris Harris
12 Josh Matavesi
11 Tom Arscott
10 Brett Connon
9 Michael Young
1 Trevor Davison
2 Kyle Cooper
3 Logovi’i Mulipola
4 Calum Green
5 Will Witty
6 Will Welch (captain)
7 Gary Graham
8 Callum Chick
16 Santiago Socino
17 Adam Brocklebank
18 David Wilson
19 Andrew Davidson
20 Ryan Burrows
21 Sonatane Takulua
22 Tim Swiel
23 Pedro Bettencourt
Referee: Tom Foley