Sinoti back for Sunday’s Saints clash

Friday 17 February 2017 Written by: Adam

The Samoan stepper lines up for the 3pm Kingston Park kick-off as one of four changes from the side which took two bonus points from last week’s trip to Sale Sharks, Sinoti having suffered a knee injury in November’s visit of Exeter Chiefs.

Nili Latu makes his first Aviva Premiership start of the season after making his league comeback from the bench last weekend, the Tonga captain having suffered an MCL ligament injury and dislocated knee-cap on international duty during the summer.

He replaces countryman Opeti Fonua, while hooker Kyle Cooper makes his first Premiership start following his move from South African Super Rugby side, the Sharks.

The only other change to the Falcons’ side comes at outside centre where Dominic Waldouck replaces Chris Harris, Newcastle out to do the double over the Saints following November’s 22-16 triumph at Franklin’s Gardens.

Director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Northampton are a side who are incredibly difficult to beat, so we’ll have an understanding of how to beat them. The personnel for them will have changed from then to now, but in essence their style doesn’t change that much.

“We have thoughts on how to play them and what their strengths and weaknesses are, but at the same time we’ve still got to go out and do it. Ultimately it comes down to the mind-set, which I think is the big thing at the weekend.”

Vereniki Goneva scored the match-winning interception try the last time the two teams met, and the Fijian was at it again with a hat-trick last weekend, including another pair of interceptions.

“He’s on fire at the moment,” said Richards.

“He has a habit of scoring tries – three last week, one against them earlier in the year. They’ll look at Niki, they’ll look at the rest of the back line and be on guard, but their pack is something to be worried about. They certainly work hard, they’re abrasive and are very direct as well.

“We know what’s coming, it’s just we’ve got to prepare for it and deal with it. They fight for every point they get, they will have been disappointed by the game down there and they will try and reverse that.”

Enjoying home advantage for Sunday’s 3pm kick-off, Richards believes the Kingston Park factor can work in his side’s favour for different reasons than in previous years.

“First and foremost it has to be our style of play which makes it difficult for teams to come here,” he said.

“You can look at the weather, before that it was the pitch, but actually I want to put those to one side and make it our style of play and our combativeness and an attitude that we’re never willing to lie down. We’re getting there because this season every game has been like that.

“Probably the Exeter game has been the one that has disappointed us most of all, but every other game has been a pretty hard battle for the guys who have come up here. They don’t like coming up here, they make it well known that they don’t and we’re pleased about that. Primarily that’s not about the travel or the weather, but the way that we play.”

Asked if the top six of the Aviva Premiership table was a realistic target this season, Richards replied: “I’ve never looked at anything other than that for the last four years, so in that respect nothing has changed at all. It’s just that the results have started to go our way.

“Every year we’ve shown improvements, but for a lot of people they haven’t quite seen the amount of improvement until all of a sudden you start overtaking people, which is what we’ve done this season. When you do start overtaking them in terms of league position and you start getting more wins than people thought you would get, people do look at you as top-six contenders.

“I’ve always felt we should be, and that’s always been the goal, but you’ve still got to go out and do it. We just approach every game in the same way, as a game to be won. It’s not about the dizzy heights or where your aspirations are, it’s actually about nailing that win time and time again.”

Tickets for Sunday’s game are available by calling 0871 226 6060, from Kingston Park Stadium in person or by [**clicking here**.][1]

Supporters are advised that the stadium car park is already sold out, with alternative parking options available at Bank Foot and Kingston Park Metro stations. FREE curry will again be served half an hour after the final whistle in the 1877 Bar, while the club shop has 15% off replica shirts and match shorts for all supporters.

**Newcastle Falcons**

15 Alex Tait

14 Vereniki Goneva

13 Dominic Waldouck

12 Juan Pablo Socino

11 Sinoti Sinoti

10 Joel Hodgson

9 Sonatane Takulua

1 Rob Vickers

2 Kyle Cooper

3 Jon Welsh

4 Calum Green

5 Sean Robinson

6 Mark Wilson

7 Will Welch (captain)

8 Nili Latu


16 Scott Lawson

17 Ben Harris

18 Scott Wilson

19 Opeti Fonua

20 Evan Olmstead

21 Sam Egerton

22 Mike Delany

23 Chris Harris

**Northampton Saints**

15 Ahsee Tuala

14 Ken Pisi

13 Nafi Tuitavake

12 Harry Mallinder

11 Ben Foden (captain)

10 Stephen Myler

9 Nic Groom

1 Alex Waller

2 Mikey Haywood

3 Kieran Brookes

4 Api Ratuniyarawa

5 Christian Day

6 Jamie Gibson

7 Calum Clark

8 Teimana Harrison


16 Charlie Clare

17 Ethan Waller

18 Paul Hill

19 Michael Paterson

20 Ben Nutley

21 Lee Dickson

22 Rory Hutchinson

23 Juan Pablo Estelles

**Referee:** Greg Garner