Team news: McGuigan back for Bedford trip

Friday 8 November 2019

George McGuigan makes his first competitive appearance of the season for Newcastle Falcons on Saturday when the Greene King IPA Championship leaders take their unbeaten record to Bedford Blues.

The 3.30pm kick-off will be televised live on Sky Sports, McGuigan making his league return from summer knee surgery after scoring a first-half hat-trick for the Falcons XV against Stirling County in last weekend’s comeback game.

The hooker co-captains the team alongside scrum-half Michael Young, with centre Domnic Waldouck also making a first outing of the season. He partners the returning George Wacokecoke, with Toby Flood sliding across to the fly-half berth.

Sam Lockwood comes in at loose-head prop, Darren Barry returns to the second row and John Hardie slots into the back row, the Falcons looking to stretch their unbeaten start to the campaign out to eight games after winning every one of their matches so far.

Returning to the famously-sloping Goldington Road for the first time since their 2013 Championship play-off final success, director of rugby Dean Richards said: “It’ll be hard down at Bedford, and they play a really good brand of rugby on what is normally a fast pitch.

“It’s like playing on Mount Snowdon with the slope they have there but it’s a great club, a proper rugby club atmosphere and I’ve had some great battles there down the years.

“As a player I was in numerous fights there which lasted from the first minute until the last, and the tradition there is brilliant. At the same time we’ll put that to one side on Saturday because it’s all about just doing a professional job and hopefully getting back on the bus with another four or five points.”

Admitting his side have had to graft for their away victories at London Scottish and Cornish Pirates, the Falcons boss said: “We’re everyone’s cup final when we go away from home, everybody in the division is fighting to be the first team to turn us over and we just have to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“Every away game is proving to be hard work, and we always knew that would be the case. When we’re at home we’re not counting our chickens of course, but we go out there with a confidence that we’ve got enough gas and strength in depth to see us through.

“When we go away from home there are always those little things that can throw you a bit, like chuckng it down with rain at London Scottish and a bit of fatigue from travelling on the day to Cornwall, and then a sloping pitch at Bedford.

“They’re just little curve-balls that you have to deal with, and I think it’s good. It tests you, it makes you think differently about the game and we fully appreciate that nothing is a given this season. We have to earn the right to win every single week, and rather than complaining about things we just have to see it as a challenge to be met.”

Winning 42-19 at home to Jersey last weekend after being level at 14-all going into the last half-hour, Richards added: “We leaked a couple of tries to Jersey out wide, we’ve looked at the reasons behind it and rectified them.

“When we get the ball in hand and keep it beyond three phases I think we’re pretty much unstoppable, and holes start to open up. But we have to earn that possession and make it count.”

Newcastle Falcons team to face Bedford Blues (Saturday, 3.30pm, Goldington Road, live on Sky Sports)

15 Tom Arscott

14 Adam Radwan

13 George Wacokecoke

12 Dominic Waldouck

11 Sinoti Sinoti

10 Toby Flood

9 Michael Young (co-captain)

1 Sam Lockwood

2 George McGuigan (co-captain)

3 Rodney Ah You

4 Darren Barry

5 Sean Robinson

6 Callum Chick

7 John Hardie

8 Nemani Nagusa

Replacements

16 Jamie Blamire

17 Trevor Davison

18 Mark Tampin

19 Sebastian de Chaves

20 Will Welch

21 Sam Stuart

22 Joel Hodgson

23 Ben Stevenson

Bedford Blues

15 Ali Crossdale

14 Pat Tapley

13 Ed Coulson

12 Lewis Robling

11 Ryan Hutler

10 Will Hooley

9 Grayson Hart

1 Sean McCarthy (captain)

2 Robbie Smith

3 Henry Paul

4 Jordan Onojaife

5 Will Carrick Smith

6 Oli Curry

7 Joe Atkinson

8 Dan Temm

Replacements

16 Jacob Fields

17 Joe Wrafter

18 Andrew Boye

19 Huw Worthington

20 Josh Buggea

21 James Lennon

22 Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas

23 Dean Adamson

Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe

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