Team news: Falcons get ready for Worcester

Friday 04 June 2021 Written by: Adam

Director of rugby Dean Richards has made a raft of changes from last week’s trip to Exeter, with the Falcons looking to build on recent home wins over Northampton Saints and London Irish.

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Newcastle are set to play in front of a maximum of 2,500 supporters in their final home game of the season, and Richards is not taking Saturday’s opponents lightly.

“I think Worcester are a really good side, and they actually make more line-breaks than any other in the Premiership at the moment despite being bottom of the table,” said the Falcons boss.

“In terms of having an attacking philosophy they’re right up there, but by their own admission the thing they haven’t been doing is finishing enough of those chances.

“We’ve got to be on our mettle because they’re a good side, and we’ll have a totally different team out from last week. It’ll be a competitive game all around, and Worcester are a really difficult side to crack.

“If you look at the spine of their team – 2, 8, 9, 10 and the two centres – they’ve got a good, strong base. They’ve missed Nick Schonert on the right-hand side of their scrum but he might be back this weekend, and it’ll be a tough game for us.”

Looking to bounce back from last weekend’s reverse at Exeter when a much-changed side suffered a 74-3 loss away to the champions, Richards said: “We’ve talked about it, and the players have talked about it among themselves.

“Every one of these young players has aspirations, and sometimes a day like that is a wake-up call as to how hard they have to work and the skill levels they have to aspire to. As I said after the game, in that sense it isn’t about the scoreline – it’s about how well they perform and what they take away from it.

“Dare I say it, in an odd sort of way there were a huge amount of positives that a number of our guys will take on board from having gone through a tough experience such as that. Players like Chidera Obonna and Rob Farrar, to name just a couple, I thought acquitted themselves well. For us it’s a case of trying to take those positives, although clearly the scoreline on the day doesn’t reflect that.

“Exeter are a hell of a side, though, and when you see them bringing on experienced Lions internationals from the bench compared to us giving Premiership debuts to four guys – they’ve got that depth.

“As I said all last week they’ve been my favourites to win the title, and they’re a great side. Everything stuck for them on the day, and once they get their tails up on a warm day in front of their own fans, they’re going to give it a go and carry on all the way through. Their mental strength to keep it up until minute 80 was relentless, and our guys will have learned a lot from that.”

With Premiership rugby having this week seen its first Covid cancellation for a number of months, Richards was asked about the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

“It’s part of everyday life at the moment, and it’s often through no fault of any particular person,” he said.

“This new variant seems to be more easily transmissible, and we’re all on high alert in terms of following our protocols to the letter. But yeah, it’s worrying.

“Thankfully we have the vaccines out there, which means hopefully the impact shouldn’t be as great as it might otherwise have been, but it’s part of everyone’s lives now that you’re going to have disruptions. All you can do is stick to your protocols and get on with it, and just pray that it doesn’t come near you.

“We’re being tested three and sometimes four times a week, and we still have all our systems in place as we have done all season. Thankfully it hasn’t touched us for quite a long while now, but it’s one of these things whereby it can be a total fluke that somebody gets it. Such is the highly transmissible nature of the virus these days, once it’s in your camp it spreads like wildfire.

“All you worry about really is the welfare of the people involved, and as much as it’s disappointing to see games called off, your concern is all about hoping that everyone comes through okay.”

More immediately focused on sending his own fans home with smiles on their faces on Saturday, Richards added: “It’d be lovely in our last home game of the season to be able to thank our supporters with a really good win, and end on three successive home victories.

“We’ve had two good performances and results in beating London Irish and Northampton here over the past few weeks, and let’s finish it in style now.”

**Newcastle Falcons team to face Worcester Warriors (Saturday, 3pm, Kingston Park Stadium, live on BT Sport 1 Extra)**

15 Joel Hodgson

14 Adam Radwan

13 Matias Orlando

12 Luther Burrell

11 George Wacokecoke

10 Brett Connon

9 Louis Schreuder

1 Adam Brocklebank

2 George McGuigan

3 Trevor Davison

4 Greg Peterson

5 Sean Robinson

6 Will Welch

7 Mark Wilson (captain)

8 Callum Chick


16 Jamie Blamire

17 Kyle Cooper

18 Rodney Ah You

19 Philip van der Walt

20 Carl Fearns

21 Michael Young

22 Chidera Obonna

23 Alex Tait

**Worcester Warriors:** 15 Jamie Shillcock, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Noah Heward, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Francois Hougaard; 1 Marc Thomas, 2 Beck Cutting, 3 Jay Tyack, 4 Ted Hill (captain), 5 Graham Kitchener, 6 Tom Dodd, 7 Sam Lewis, 8 Matt Kvesic.

**Replacements:** 16 Niall Annett, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Nick Schonert, 19 Justin Clegg, 20 GJ van Velze, 21 Gareth Simpson, 22 Alex Hearle, 23 Harri Doel.

**Referee:** Luke Pearce.

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