Team news: Deano names side to face Leicester

Thursday 26 April 2018 Written by: Adam

The fourth-placed Falcons travel to the fifth-placed Tigers determined to press home their claims on a semi-final spot, Wilson making his first start since the Premiership victory at Harlequins on February 24 after overcoming a hamstring injury.

The Cumbrian’s return comes as one of four changes from the team which started last Friday’s European Challenge Cup semi-final at Gloucester, Ally Hogg replacing Ryan Burrows at No 8 in the only other change to the forward pack.

Former Tiger Vereniki Goneva returns on the right wing as Chris Harris moves infield to the centres, Sinoti Sinoti coming back on the other wing as the Falcons strive for their first win at Welford Road since December 1997.

That match was the last of Dean Richards’ 314 competitive appearances for Leicester, the Falcons’ director of rugby saying ahead of Friday’s 7.45pm kick-off: “They’ve got a full international front row and a tasty back line, but we’ve got a good pack ourselves and a load of talent in the backs.

“It’s nicely poised when you look at the whole contest, and it should be an interesting game. I wouldn’t be going down there if I didn’t have the confidence that we could win, and it’s a massive opportunity for us.”

Confident his side can bounce back from last Friday’s European Challenge Cup semi-final defeat at Gloucester, Richards said: “We’ve sat down and picked it to pieces, and even that first passage of the game when we had the ball in hand for over two minutes we missed three blatant overlaps.

“That was just due to our own inaccuracy in terms of executing what we said we were going to do, and that was the most difficult thing to come to terms with. It wasn’t the fact we had lost, it was the fact we didn’t deliver what we’d said we were going to deliver. Enthusiasm isn’t enough at this level, you have to be accurate with it, and you can’t afford to go wildly off-script for periods of time. But we’ve put that to bed now, we’ve taken from it what we needed to take and it will be a different performance down at Leicester on Friday.”

With Leicester building up the game as an unofficial Premiership quarter-final Richards is well aware of the noise which will be generated at his former home, saying: “The atmosphere won’t affect the players – if anything it will affect the referee more than the lads.

“You can get the most impartial referee in the world but as soon as he steps out at Welford Road it can change, and I can say that because I benefited from it for about 20 years!

“That’s just the nature of the beast and we’ll have to adjust things accordingly, but from the players’ point of view they’ve played in enough big atmospheres to know not to get fazed by it. From their end it’s just a case of going out there and getting the job done, which means beating a very good Leicester side.”

Out to end their 20-year wait for a victory at Welford Road, he added: “Not many people probably gave Northampton a hope of winning there a fortnight ago, and there’s every chance we can do the same. It’s by no means a given but the opportunity is there, and we’re going down there with a really positive mind-set in terms of taking the game to them.

“Leicester will be smarting from that Northampton defeat and we know they’ll come out like a train in the first few minutes, and we totally understand that. It’s not a problem, and we’ve played against them enough times to know what they are about.”

**Newcastle Falcons team to face Leicester Tigers (Friday, 7.45pm, Welford Road, live on BT Sport)**

15 Simon Hammersley

14 Vereniki Goneva

13 Chris Harris

12 Josh Matavesi

11 Sinoti Sinoti

10 Joel Hodgson

9 Michael Young

1 Sam Lockwood

2 Scott Lawson

3 Scott Wilson

4 Calum Green

5 Sean Robinson

6 Mark Wilson (captain)

7 Gary Graham

8 Ally Hogg


16 Santiago Socino

17 Rob Vickers

18 Trevor Davison

19 Will Witty

20 Ryan Burrows

21 Sonatane Takulua

22 Juan Pablo Socino

23 Alex Tait

**Leicester Tigers**

15 Telusa Veainu

14 Adam Thompstone

13 Manu Tuilagi

12 Matt Toomua

11 Jonny May

10 George Ford (captain)

9 Ben Youngs

1 Ellis Genge

2 Tatafu Polota-Nau

3 Dan Cole

4 Mike Fitzgerald

5 Graham Kitchener

6 Luke Hamilton

7 Brendon O’Connor

8 Sione Kalamafoni


16 Tom Youngs

17 Greg Bateman

18 Logovi’i Mulipola

19 Harry Wells

20 Mike Williams

21 Sam Harrison

22 Mathew Tait

23 Jonah Holmes

**Referee:** Luke Pearce