Team news: 100 up for Brocklebank at Ampthill

Friday 08 September 2023 Written by: Alan

The 3pm kick-off has the Falcons visiting Dillingham Park in Bedfordshire for the first time in the club’s history, with head coach Alex Codling’s first competitive outing seeing six summer signings included in the starting XV.

Hooker Bryan Byrne, prop Murray McCallum, lock Tim Cardall, open-side Josh Bainbridge, scrum-half Hugh O’Sullivan and centre Cameron Hutchison all make their debuts, with fellow new arrivals Kiran McDonald and John Kelly named on the bench.

Tom Penny captains the side from outside centre, with Guy Pepper included on the bench after nine months out with a foot injury.

Looking forward to the contest, Codling said: “The boys are ready to play.

“As a coaching group we’re excited, and you can see the buzz among the squad after 13 weeks of hard work. It’s a tough challenge, but one we’re looking forward to.

“We’ve had our True North Origin inter-squad game and then a training session against Edinburgh just to mix things up a bit and get that flavour of a game, but this week will be different with being our first competitive hit-out.”

This season’s Premiership Rugby Cup sees a revised format, with the 12 RFU Championship clubs added to the competition. Each team plays five games in the group stage, with the four pool winners making up the semi-finals.

[**Click here**][1] for a full explanation of the new format.

Outlining Newcastle Falcons’ approach to the competition, Codling said: “We’ll raise the intensity, and whilst we’ll use these five weeks of Cup games to rotate the squad we’re also taking the competition very seriously with the full intention of winning every game and going hard for some silverware.

“I think the changes to the tournament are great, and having coached for years in the Championship they’re always keen to test themselves against Premiership opposition. This gives them and us the chance to take part in a new competition and play against teams that we wouldn’t normally face, which will be a great experience for everybody.

“We can expect a tough challenge at Ampthill. Since being promoted into the Championship they’ve acquitted themselves really well, they’re a well-coached team and it will be a good test.”

Enthused by the prospect of taking charge of his first game for the Falcons, Codling added: “I’m absolutely loving being up in the North East.

“You’ve got the beaches, the city and the countryside all right on your doorstep, and the people are wonderful. They’re passionate and very welcoming, and I’m really enjoying my time here so far.

“Since I arrived here I’ve been overwhelmed by the passion and energy that our supporters have for this club and for rugby in general. They make a massive difference, and following this weekend’s game we have a pair of home matches against Bedford and Sale Sharks.

“It will be great to see our fans turning up and really getting behind the boys for those games, but first and foremost we’ve got a job to do down at Ampthill. That’s where our focus is, and we can build from there.”

Supporters are advised there is no live TV or radio coverage of Saturday’s game, but there will be in-game updates on the Falcons’ Twitter feed.

**Newcastle Falcons v Ampthill (Saturday, 3pm, Dillingham Park)**

15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Iwan Stephens, 13 Tom Penny (captain), 12 Cameron Hutchison, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Hugh O’Sullivan; 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Bryan Byrne, 3 Murray McCallum, 4 Tim Cardall, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Philip van der Walt, 7 Josh Bainbridge, 8 Freddie Lockwood.

**Replacements:** 16 Ollie Fletcher, 17 Phil Brantingham, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Kiran McDonald, 20 John Kelly, 21 Josh Barton, 22 Guy Pepper, 23 Josh Thomas.

**Referee:** Alex Thomas.