Sinoti Sinoti

Team news: Sinoti and Goneva back to face Worcester

Friday 6 April 2018

Newcastle Falcons welcome back wing duo Sinoti Sinoti and Vereniki Goneva for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership trip to Worcester Warriors.

Dean Richards’ men boast the best away record in the league with six wins from their nine road trips, their only losses away from Kingston Park coming against the top three sides in the division, Exeter, Saracens and Wasps.

Goneva and Sinoti return after missing last week’s European Challenge Cup quarter-final victory over Brive, Alex Tait starting at full-back after scoring two tries in the 25-10 triumph against the French outfit.

Sam Stuart retains his place at scrum-half, centre Josh Matavesi lining up against his former club for a Falcons side who have lost only one of their last nine Aviva Premiership outings.

Newcastle were 35-8 winners when they last met Worcester on the league’s opening night and could hand a Premiership debut to winger Adam Radwan, the 20-year-old named on the Falcons bench after a debut season which has seen him winning the Anglo-Welsh Cup Breakthrough Award and sitting as the top try-scorer in the European Challenge Cup.

Speaking ahead of the Sixways clash, defence coach John Wells said: “Our record at Worcester isn’t great. The last time we won there was in our first season back from the Championship when Mike Blair snuck over, and even on that day Worcester were all over us. Since then we’ve taken a couple of good beatings there and we have to rise to the occasion on Saturday.

“If we get a result down there and other games fall in our favour we’re in a great position in the table, but do to that we have to focus on the job on Saturday, and Worcester aren’t a bad side. They’re similar to ourselves in many ways, they play a lot of football in the backs and they’ve toughened up that forward core, so it will be a tough but interesting game.”

Sat at fourth in the table and with a European semi-final in a fortnight’s time, Wells said: “We’re delighted with where we are, but there’s still a way to go. It’s probably fair to say we’ve already hit our goals in terms of the targets we set at the start of the season, but having got ourselves into this position we can turn it into something even better than what we set out to do eight months ago.

“A lot of things have worked for us this season, the guys have grown as players and the signings we made in the summer have added a lot of international experience. Guys like Josh Matavesi and Toby Flood are vastly experienced at playing in big games, they know what standards are needed in training every single day and they’re helping accelerate the growth of what was already a pretty decent foundation of a squad.

“Momentum also makes a difference. I think there are a lot of sides in the Premiership who are pretty evenly matched, and there are a lot of games we’ve won by a point or two which could easily have been lost by the same margin were it not for the self-belief we have shown. We’ve possibly rode our luck at times by winning some of those tight games, but we’ve put ourselves in a position to win them because all aspects of our play have improved from last season, even if it’s just by a small amount.”

The former Leicester and England coach added: “There’s a tremendous tenacity within this squad. There are lots of reasons why it’s tough to play for Newcastle, whether it’s the travel distance for away games, the weather, the fact that football totally dominates the local press and all those other little factors.

“The club has had to come out of its shell, for want of a better expression, and put itself in the limelight in a variety of ways. An example of that would be our games at St James’ Park and over in Philadelphia, and for the bulk of our squad those things are all new. It requires a certain mental tenacity to deal with all of those pressures, and even in games when we haven’t performed well we’ve still found a way to win.

“That for me has been the biggest difference this season, and the players deserve tremendous credit for it. The key now is turning all of that hard work into something tangible.”

Newcastle Falcons team to face Worcester Warriors (Saturday, 3pm, Sixways)

15 Alex Tait

14 Vereniki Goneva

13 Chris Harris

12 Josh Matavesi

11 Sinoti Sinoti

10 Toby Flood

9 Sam Stuart

1 Sam Lockwood

2 Kyle Cooper

3 Scott Wilson

4 Calum Green

5 Sean Robinson

6 Evan Olmstead

7 Will Welch (captain)

8 Nili Latu

Replacements

16 Scott Lawson

17 Rob Vickers

18 Trevor Davison

19 Will Witty

20 Callum Chick

21 Joel Hodgson

22 Dominic Waldouck

23 Adam Radwan

Worcester Warriors

15 Chris Pennell

14 Bryce Heem

13 Ben Te’o

12 Jackson Willison

11 Josh Adams

10 Jamie Shillcock

9 Jonny Arr

1 Ryan Bower

2 Jack Singleton

3 Nick Schonert

4 Darren Barry

5 Will Spencer

6 David Denton

7 Sam Lewis

8 GJ van Velze (captain)

Replacements

16 Kurt Haupt

17 Gareth Milasinovich

18 Simon Kerrod

19 Andrew Kitchener

20 Marco Mama

21 Grayson Hart

22 Dorian Jones

23 Dean Hammond

Referee: Christophe Ridley

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