Team news: Falcons side to face Gloucester

Friday 17 May 2024 Written by: Mark Smith

Newcastle Falcons have made just one change to their side for Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership trip to Gloucester.

John Hawkins replaces Sebastian de Chaves in the second row following a calf injury sustained during last Friday’s visit of Bath, with academy second-rower Adam Scott in line for his Premiership debut after being named on the bench.

The 3.05pm kick-off at Kingsholm is being shown live on Discovery+ and the TNT Sports red button, and provides the Falcons with their final chance of the season to record a league victory.

Newcastle were 27-21 winners on their last visit to Kingsholm, with forwards coach Micky Ward looking to build on the positives shown against Bath.

“We won the last 50 minutes of the game, but it’s pointless saying that when you’ve shipped four tries by then,” said the Falcons’ all-time appearance record holder.

“There was plenty of good stuff and we can definitely build on elements for the performance, but everyone is sick of hearing us saying we can’t afford these periods during games where we drop off. It’s obviously something we’re aware of and are working hard at, because we’ve shown we can compete with teams when we’re on it.”

Following Gloucester’s 90-0 loss at Northampton, Ward said: “I know there’s been chat from people on the outside around their result last weekend, but it’s not something we’ve paid any attention to.

“We had a heavy defeat ourselves at Bristol a few weeks ago, and sometimes you just get a day where it all goes wrong. They’d rotated some of their squad and were up against one of the best teams in the league, so I don’t think either side will have spent much time reviewing it. They’ll be a different beast at Kingsholm, and it’s not something we’ve really talked about.

“We’ve just got to go down there and get stuck right into them, and if we can do that then some of their guys might start thinking about their Challenge Cup final next week. I think it’s a good opportunity for us, albeit we do respect them as a team. We’ve not spent too much time looking at Gloucester, though. It’s just been about us, nailing our defence, our discipline, set-piece and all those sorts of basics. If we put those things in place then we stand a great chance.”

Determined to avoid a win-less Premiership campaign going into the final round, Ward said: “It’s been a difficult environment at times this season, I’m not going to lie to you, but the players’ attitude and togetherness has been really good throughout the whole thing.

“They’ve turned up every day and worked their socks off, and Steve Diamond has come in and added a bit more structure to the place. Of course nobody wants to be known as the team who didn’t win a league game all season, but we’ve already started to make positive changes which will bear fruit for us moving forward.

“Some people will probably think I’m mad for saying this, but I’m really excited about next season. Dimes has come in and really got the place organised, and whilst results haven’t quite followed yet, apart from the one blip at Bristol we’ve been really competitive in all our games.

“He’s brought in a ‘100% Falcons’ focus where it’s less about the opposition, he’s simplified certain things and he’s just the ideal person to come into our kind of environment.

“I think the fans have latched onto it because he’s really good in the way he communicates his message, and the crowds for our last two home games are the best we’ve had in a long time. You wouldn’t think it makes sense for a team who haven’t won a league game all season, but it’s a combination of the off-field team really having a massive push in terms of what goes on around a match day, and then the influence that Dimes is starting to have.

“From day one he was talking about how much he always hated coming here as an opposition coach because of the physical battle you’d get, and about bringing back more of a ‘legal violence’ philosophy. For someone like me, that’s music to my ears, and you can see the supporters are buying into it.

“Nobody is pretending this season has been a success, because it clearly hasn’t, but it feels like we’ve had a bit of a pre pre-season and everyone is in a good place to really attack things when we come back on July 1.”

Newcastle Falcons team v Gloucester Rugby (Saturday, 3.05pm, Kingsholm, live on Discovery+)

15 Louis Brown, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Cameron Hutchison, 11 Ben Redshaw, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart; 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Eduardo Bello, 4 Tim Cardall, 5 John Hawkins, 6 Sam Cross, 7 Guy Pepper, 8 Callum Chick (captain).

Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Mark Dormer, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Adam Scott, 20 Freddie Lockwood, 21 James Elliott, 22 Rory Jennings, 23 Oli Spencer.

Not available for selection: Phil Brantingham, Sebastian de Chaves, Murray McCallum, Kiran McDonald, Elliott Obatoyinbo, Hugh O’Sullivan, Tom Penny, Pedro Rubiolo, Ben Stevenson, Philip van der Walt.

Gloucester Rugby: 15 Josh Hathaway, 14 Jonny May, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Seb Atkinson, 11 Ollie Thorley, 10 Charlie Atkinson, 9 Caolan Englefield; 1 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 2 Seb Blake, 3 Kirill Gotovtsev, 4 Freddie Clarke, 5 Freddie Thomas, 6 Ruan Ackerman, 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 8 Zach Mercer.

Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Ciaran Knight, 19 Albert Tuisue, 20 Jack Clement, 21 Stephen Varney, 22 Alex Hearle, 23 Jake Morris.

Referee: Sara Cox.