Sean Robinson comes into the second row

Team news: Falcons change ten for Doncaster trip

Friday 6 December 2019

Newcastle Falcons have made ten changes for Saturday’s Championship Cup trip to Doncaster Knights, where victory would guarantee the club a home quarter-final.

Will Welch captains the group leaders in their 2.30pm kick-off at Castle Park, Philip van der Walt moving to blind-side flanker as Nemani Nagusa comes in at No 8.

Sebastian de Chaves and Sean Robinson return to the side as director of rugby Dean Richards rotates his second-row resources, Mark Tampin added to a front-row which sees Sam Lockwood and Jamie Blamire retained from the side which defeated Hartpury 50-10 last time out.

Sam Stuart and Joel Hodgson form a freshened-up half-back pairing, George Wacokecoke coming in on the right wing. Ben Stevenson occupies the other wing in a start to the season which has seen him scoring five tries in six games, while Dominic Waldouck and Tom Penny come in to make up the midfield.

Alex Tait switches from wing to full-back, Newcastle’s bench including hooker George McGuigan ahead of what would be his 100th appearance for the club.

Head coach Dave Walder said: “We’ve played Doncaster quite a few times in recent years, mainly in pre-season friendlies, and we’ve had quite a few of our boys going there on dual-registration over the past few seasons. Rob Farrar has even been there this season, so I think both clubs have got a good idea of what each other is about.

“We know their coaching team well, too, and Clive Griffiths has done a great job down there. He always over-achieves considering the budget he has got to work with, and we know it’s a difficult place to go.

“We’re excited about the group of players we’re sending down to Doncaster, and the cup is a very important competition for us.

“We are where we are at the top of the group, we’re taking it very seriously and we want to win some silverware. Yes, our goal for the season is to win the league and get promoted back to the Premiership, but the cup is a competition to be won and we’d love to achieve that.

“Winning on Saturday would secure us a home quarter-final, which again is important, and it’s another opportunity for our players to showcase their ability. They’re an absolute joy to work with, they’ve got heaps of ability and I’m looking forward to seeing their continued progression.”

Hoping to avoid the kind of mid-game quiet spell which allowed Hartpury a foothold in last week’s 50-10 victory, Walder said: “The sin-binning of Tane Takulua and then Toby Flood going off injured disrupted us because we were a man down and had to move Joel Hodgson to scrum-half.

“We had started really well and earned a 10-0 lead through a couple of early tries, but we needed to be more ruthless once we’d gone ahead. Having said that, I thought the subs came on and did a really good job, and it was nice to be able to get 50 points on the board despite that lull during the first half.”

Able to maintain the strength of his side despite making ten changes this weekend, the former England fly-half said: “The strength in depth of our squad at the moment is phenomenal, and we’ve got that mixture of experienced guys, younger guys and some who just need some game time. That’s not a bad position to be in as a club and we want to play an exciting brand.

“There’s huge competition for places, the boys are buying in to what we’re trying to do and we’re slowly starting to see the results of all the work we’ve been putting in. We had Rob Farrar and Cooper Vuna both scoring a try on their debut last weekend, both at different ends of their careers, but they’re all part of the same group and all contributing to what we’re doing.

“The key thing is that if guys know they’re under pressure for their shirt then they can’t leave any stone unturned in their preparation, and that competition is really driving up our standards.”

Newcastle Falcons team v Doncaster Knights (Saturday, 2.30pm, Castle Park)

15 Alex Tait

14 George Wacokecoke

13 Tom Penny

12 Dominic Waldouck

11 Ben Stevenson

10 Joel Hodgson

9 Sam Stuart

1 Sam Lockwood

2 Jamie Blamire

3 Mark Tampin

4 Sebastian de Chaves

5 Sean Robinson

6 Philip van der Walt

7 Will Welch (captain)

8 Nemani Nagusa

Replacements

16 George McGuigan

17 Adam Brocklebank

18 Mike Daniels

19 Rob Farrar

20 Callum Chick

21 Sonatane Takulua

22 Brett Connon

23 Gareth Owen

Doncaster Knights

15 Steve McColl

14 Kyle Evans

13 Connor Doherty

12 Lloyd Hayes

11 Howard Packman

10 Sam Olver

9 Tom James

1 Robin Hislop

2 Ben Hunter

3 Dan Suter

4 Matt Challinor

5 Rory Pitman

6 Wian Conradie

7 Fotu Lokotui

8 Tom Calladine

Replacements

16 George Edgson

17 Marc Thomas

18 Andy Foster

19 Michael Hills

20 Joe Sproston

21 Gus Warr

22 Charlie Foley

23 Cameron Cowell

Referee: Fergus Kirby

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