Team news: Burrows leads side in Cup opener

Friday 26 October 2018

Ryan Burrows captains Newcastle Falcons on Sunday as they begin their Premiership Rugby Cup campaign at home to Exeter Chiefs (kick-off 3pm).

The back-rower started in last weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup victory over Montpellier and leads a side which showcases the club’s up-and-coming talent.

Burrows forms part of a back row which includes Tom Marshall, the England Under-18s international making his competitive senior debut after impressing during pre-season and being part of the Newcastle A-Team which currently sits top of the Premiership Rugby Shield’s Northern Conference.

Last weekend’s match-winner Callum Chick completes the back-row, Andrew Davidson coming in at lock after featuring for Glasgow in the Pro 14 during a recent loan spell in his native Scotland.

Jon Welsh comes in at tight-head prop, joined in the front row by Trevor Davison and Santiago Socino, while Portugal centre Pedro Bettencourt makes his first competitive start for the Falcons after debuting from the bench during the Champions Cup win in Toulon a fortnight ago.

Adam Radwan and Zach Kibirige form a pacy wing pairing, Tom Arscott starting at full-back in a back line which is completed by academy products Brett Connon and Ben Stevenson.

The Falcons have also rotated their coaching resources for the new-look competition, academy manager Mark Laycock and academy head coach James Ponton leading the side this week.

Laycock said: “This is a big occasion for these boys, probably the biggest that a lot of them have played in.

“We want to win things. We got to three semi-finals last season, four if you include the A-League, but we didn’t convert any of them into trophies. We’re making progress but we want to make that next step and start winning silverware, so this is a big opportunity and we’re taking it seriously.”

Coming into the game on the back of Heineken Champions Cup wins over Toulon and Montpellier, Laycock is hopeful that the feelgood factor can transfer across tournaments in the first of his side’s four Premiership Rugby Cup group games.

He said: “You could tell by the reaction of the crowd and the players how much of a special moment it was when we scored the winner against Montpellier after 40 phases last weekend, and how much they fed off one another during the last attack with the sheer emotion and energy of the whole thing.

“To get across that line was fantastic and it sets us up well in the Champions Cup, so hopefully we can now carry that momentum into our other competitions. Having said that, Exeter are a top side and last week is finished now. As good as it was we have to move on, although clearly we can channel the enthusiasm and optimism which comes about from a finish like that.”

Backing Newcastle’s squad depth to rise to the challenge, he added: “The people who play on Sunday will certainly put a lot of pressure onto the guys who have been starting in the Premiership and Champions Cup, because they’ve got the quality and the hunger.

“Exeter as a club have gone well at this level, winning the cup last season and using it as a vehicle to blood guys who have gone on to make a mark in the Premiership. It makes their club and English rugby as a whole much stronger in the long run, but they’re not the only club doing it.

“Exeter’s DNA is pretty similar across the board, even when their personnel changes, so we have a good idea of what they’re going to throw at us. The same applies on our own side, too, and there are ways of playing here that you will see from the Premiership team right down to our under-15s.

“They’re an established team so everything they do is very well rehearsed, and the challenge for us is to keep our discipline in terms of playing to our plan and switching on from minute one to minute 80.

“Against Montpellier we played for the first half-hour and when the game turned against us, as it inevitably does at times, we have to be able to weather those storms. If we can build a lead during the parts when we’re on the front foot it will go a long way to securing the results that we want.”

Tickets for Sunday’s 3pm kick-off are available by clicking here, calling 0871 226 6060 or from the stadium in person.

Newcastle Falcons team to face Exeter Chiefs (Sunday, 3pm, Kingston Park Stadium)

15 Tom Arscott

14 Zach Kibirige

13 Ben Stevenson

12 Pedro Bettencourt

11 Adam Radwan

10 Brett Connon

9 Sam Stuart

1 Trevor Davison

2 Santiago Socino

3 Jon Welsh

4 Andrew Davidson

5 Glen Young

6 Ryan Burrows (captain)

7 Tom Marshall

8 Callum Chick

Replacements

16 Jamie Blamire

17 Sam Lockwood

18 David Wilson

19 Tevita Cavubati

20 Connor Collett

21 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti

22 Tim Swiel

23 Joel Matavesi

Exeter Chiefs

15 Max Bodilly

14 Tom O’Flaherty

13 Tom Hendrickson

12 Sam Hill

11 Olly Woodburn

10 Harvey Skinner

9 Sam Maunder

1 Moray Low

2 Elvis Taione

3 Greg Holmes (captain)

4 Toby Salmon

5 Wilhelm Van Der Sluys

6 Josh Caulfield

7 Sean Lonsdale

8 Tom Lawday

Replacements

16 Jack Innard

17 Billy Keast

18 Marcus Street

19 Onehunga Kaufusi

20 James Freeman

21 Joe Snow

22 Sam Morley

23 James Short

Referee: Andrew Jackson

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