Team news: Hodgson returns against Cardiff Blues

Friday 10 November 2017 Written by: Adam

The Falcons ended round one on top of their group following a thrilling 53-41 victory at Wasps, a match which saw Hodgson scoring a try and two conversions in an action-packed 20 minutes from the bench.

Full-back Alex Tait returns to the starting XV, Adam Radwan retained on the right wing after his try brace in Coventry. Elsewhere in the backs Josh Matavesi replaces Charlie Wilson in the centres, Sinoti Sinoti coming in on the left wing for Belisario Agulla.

Scottish internationals Scott Lawson and Jon Welsh are added to the Falcons’ front-row ranks, Calum Green and Sean Robinson returning in the second row while Mark Wilson and Will Welch come in on the flanks.

Head coach Dave Walder said: “We’ve got much better strength in depth this year, which really is testament to Dean Richards’ recruitment. Within that we’ve had fewer injuries and there have been a lot of frustrated guys waiting for their moment. All you can say to them is when you do get your chance make sure you take it, and a lot of the boys are doing that.

“We’re about a third of the way through the season, if that, so nobody is getting carried away. We’ve had a decent start, there will undoubtedly be some downs during the season and it’s important we react to them in the same way that we have done when things have gone well.”

Having watched his side play their part in a 94-point try-fest at Wasps last weekend, the former England fly-half said: “It was a good chance for people to have a run-out and it was entertaining up to a point, but it did get a bit ridiculous in terms of the number of tries both sides were scoring.

“We spoke at half-time about it being a case of the team which looks after the ball best being the eventual winner, and we had a couple of great passages in that second half during which we starved Wasps of possession. We put in a couple of exceptional finishes to get ourselves ahead, and managed to see it out from there.

“It was a good exercise for a couple of our lads coming in for their debuts, with guys like Charlie Wilson doing well. Joel Hodgson added a bit of experience from the bench and really shut the game down well when it was threatening to slide away a bit, and he controlled it when we needed him to.

“Guys like Simon Uzokwe and Adam Radwan caught the headlines with a couple of tries each which they took well, but they’ll be the first to admit there were things to learn from a defensive standpoint. Adam’s second try in particular was outstanding, and in terms of the grafters we saw good contributions from the likes of Ryan Burrows, Gary Graham, Sami Mavinga and a number of others. That laid the platform for the other guys to finish, and was really pleasing to see.”

On Cardiff Blues, Walder added: “Sometimes as a coach you can over-analyse things and worry too much about opposition players, but with it being an Anglo-Welsh Cup game against a side from another league there’s less emphasis on that. I think that’s good because it means we concentrate more on ourselves, and if we get our own game right this weekend we have a great chance.

“It’s going to be an exciting game because Cardiff like to move the ball and keep it in hand, and we also try to play with a very positive mind-set. Hopefully it will be an open and entertaining game – not quite as open as last weekend, mind!”

Newcastle Falcons’ 5pm kick-off against Cardiff Blues forms just part of a packed day at Kingston Park Stadium, starting at 1.30pm with Artillery North v Infantry North. England v Argentina is on TV in the Tap & Tackle bar at 3pm, while the main fixture will be preceded by a bugler playing the Last Post and a two-minute silence, with Royal British Legion poppy sellers in attendance.

Tickets for the game can be bought by [**clicking here**][1], calling 0871 226 6060 or from the ground on the day.

**Newcastle Falcons team to face Cardiff Blues (Saturday, 5pm, Kingston Park Stadium)**

15 Alex Tait

14 Adam Radwan

13 Maxime Mermoz

12 Josh Matavesi

11 Sinoti Sinoti

10 Joel Hodgson

9 Michael Young

1 Sami Mavinga

2 Scott Lawson

3 Jon Welsh

4 Calum Green

5 Sean Robinson

6 Mark Wilson

7 Will Welch (captain)

8 Ryan Burrows


16 Kyle Cooper

17 Rob Vickers

18 Scott Wilson

19 Will Witty

20 Gary Graham

21 Sam Stuart

22 Belisario Agulla

23 Juan Pablo Socino

**Cardiff Blues**

15 Rhun Williams

14 Owen Lane

13 Jack Roberts

12 Harri Millard

11 Tom James

10 Ben Jones

9 Dane Blacker

1 Brad Thyer

2 Ethan Lewis

3 Anton Peikrishvili

4 George Earle (captain)

5 James Down

6 Shane Lewis-Hughes

7 Ben White

8 Sion Bennett


16 Kirby Myhill

17 Rhys Carre

18 Keiron Assiratti

19 Ben Murphy

20 Callum Bradbury

21 Lewis Jones

22 Ben Thomas

23 Dan Fish

**Referee:** Anthony Woodthorpe