Team news: Falcons name side for London Irish trip

Friday 29 December 2017 Written by: Adam

Lock Sean Robinson and winger Alex Tait come in for Will Witty and Sinoti Sinoti respectively, both of whom suffered injuries during last weekend’s 11-10 home victory over Harlequins.

The Falcons have now chalked up four successive victories in all competitions while their much-improved away form has delivered six wins from eight road trips, their only two defeats away from Kingston Park coming at last season’s Premiership finalists, Exeter and Wasps.

Club captain Will Welch features on the Falcons’ bench after completing his return to play protocols, Fijian international centre Josh Matavesi and Canada lock Evan Olmstead also promoted to the replacements contingent as Newcastle go in search of a third successive victory over London Irish.

Speaking ahead of the Madejski Stadium clash, Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Winning down there would be an outstanding way to finish the year. December has been a good month for us with four wins from four, and we’re looking forward to giving a good account of ourselves.”

Expecting a stern test from London Irish despite the Exiles having won only once in the league this season, the Falcons’ boss added: “Sides down at the bottom are probably the most dangerous of all, they’re playing at home with nothing to lose and it’s a trap for us in some ways.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re switched on because they’re not a bad side, and they have some good players. Both of their wingers are very effective, they have flair in the midfield and a good back row, so we can’t take them lightly. They’ll be smarting from their defeat at Worcester and we know it will be a difficult game.

“We can’t afford to be drawn into a free-for-all because it could become a sevens-style game, and we have to impose our own pattern onto it. If we get caught up in how London Irish want to play we’ll come unstuck because they’re a good side, and it just takes somebody stepping out of the line to give them an opening to score.”

Hoping for a repeat of the defensive resolve his team showed in their 11-10 home win over Harlequins last weekend, Richards said: “To come out on top in a game like that shows great credit.

“Quins came out hard in the second half but we defended well for the most part. Had we taken our chances in the first half we would have been out of sight, but fair dues to Harlequins because they pushed us to the wire.”

**Newcastle Falcons team to face London Irish (Saturday, 3pm, Madejski Stadium)**

15 Simon Hammersley

14 Alex Tait

13 Chris Harris

12 Juan Pablo Socino

11 Vereniki Goneva

10 Toby Flood

9 Sonatane Takulua

1 Rob Vickers

2 Kyle Cooper

3 Jon Welsh

4 Calum Green

5 Sean Robinson

6 Mark Wilson (captain)

7 Gary Graham

8 Nili Latu


16 Ben Sowrey

17 Sam Lockwood

18 Scott Wilson

19 Evan Olmstead

20 Will Welch

21 Michael Young

22 Joel Hodgson

23 Josh Matavesi

**London Irish**

15 Greig Tonks

14 Joe Cokanasiga

13 Tom Fowlie

12 Johnny Williams

11 Alex Lewington

10 James Marshall

9 Scott Steele

1 Gordon Reid

2 Saia Fainga’a

3 Petrus du Plessis

4 Franco van der Merwe

5 Teofilo Paulo

6 Mike Coman (captain)

7 Max Northcote-Green

8 Ofisa Treviranus


16 Tom Woolstencroft

17 Ben Franks

18 Ollie Hoskins

19 Sebastian De Chaves

20 Blair Cowan

21 Ben Meehan

22 Theo Brophy Clews

23 Aseli Tikoirotuma

**Referee:** Tom Foley