Team news: Falcons side for Bristol trip

Friday 17 February 2023 Written by: Adam

The Falcons were 30-15 winners when the two teams met at Kingston Park Stadium back in September, with Mateo Carreras’ sensational solo score delivering a four-try bonus point with the final play of the game.

The Argentina winger has scored more tries, beaten more defenders and made more clean breaks than any player in the league this season, and forms a formidable wing pairing with Adam Radwan.

Pumas duo Matias Orlando and Matias Moroni link up once again in midfield, with fly-half Brett Connon keen to extend a hot streak which has seen him missing just one kick at goal in his last six league games.

Connon’s most recent outing – a bonus-point victory over champions Leicester Tigers – saw him striking seven from seven off the tee, with the Cumbrian part of a side captained by scrum-half Michael Young.

Sebastian de Chaves, the Gallagher Premiership’s leading line-out stealer, starts in the second row for a Newcastle team who have scored more first-phase tries than any other in the division this season.

Gary Graham, Callum Chick and Carl Fearns form an abrasive back-row unit, with Newcastle defeating Scottish side Southern Knights 68-19 last weekend. Lock-forward Freddie Lockwood scored a hat-trick of tries on that occasion, and the Yorkshireman forms part of a potent Falcons bench which also includes flyer Ben Stevenson.

Looking forward to the fixture, head coach Dave Walder said: “We had a good win over Bristol earlier in the season but a lot has happened for both teams since then, so we’re not hanging our hats on that.

“Even with their England props away Bristol have got a lot of stars throughout their squad, and any team with players of that quality can hurt you.

“We’re not reading a lot into their league position because the table is so tight that one win can move you up two or three places, and anyone can beat anyone in the Premiership. It’s been more of a focus on ourselves this week, and if we get our own stuff right we feel we’re in a good place to go down there and get a result.

“Ashton Gate is a great venue to play at and they get a good crowd in, so the boys will be looking forward to going down there and giving a true account of ourselves.”

Having gone six weeks without a Premiership game, Walder said: “It’s been a strange time because the season is a bit stop-start, and how we deal with that is going to be really important.

“We sat down as a group of coaches with our strength and conditioning team to work out how we were going to use the past month or so in terms of giving the players rest, recovery, game time, conditioning or whatever mixture of the above suited them best.

“We’ve had a good couple of weeks training leading into this game but you’ve always got to guard against rustiness when you haven’t played a Premiership match for so long, and I guess the proof of the pudding will be in the eating as to whether we’ve got it right.

“Last weekend we had a home game against Southern Knights, which for a lot of boys who hadn’t played much rugby for a while I thought it was a good performance – especially in the first half.

“It was tough for Southern Knights in terms of them having to put together a side very early into their own preparations for the season, but they stuck at it and it was all for a great cause in Doddie Weir’s foundation.”

Friday’s game is being streamed on PRTV Live. **Click here** to buy your stream for £4.99.

**Newcastle Falcons team v Bristol Bears (Friday, 7.45pm, Ashton Gate).**

15 Tom Penny, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Matias Orlando, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Michael Young (captain); 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Gary Graham, 7 Callum Chick, 8 Carl Fearns.

**Replacements:** 16 Ollie Fletcher, 17 Logovi’i Mulipola, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Philip van der Walt, 20 Freddie Lockwood, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Ben Stevenson.

**Not available for selection:** Phil Brantingham, Sam Clark, Ewan Greenlaw, Zach Kerr, Charlie Maddison, Elliott Obatoyinbo, Guy Pepper, Sean Robinson, Oliver Spencer, George Wacokecoke, Will Welch.

**Bristol Bears:** 15 Noah Heward, 14 Siva Naulago, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 James Williams, 11 Gabriel Ibitoye, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Harry Randall; 1 Jake Woolmore, 2 Harry Thacker, 3 Max Lahiff, 4 Joe Batley, 5 Chris Vui, 6 Steven Luatua (captain), 7 Fitz Harding, 8 Magnus Bradbury.

**Replacements:** 16 Fred Davies, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 George Kloska, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Harry Ascherl, 23 Ioan Lloyd.

**Referee:** Karl Dickson.