Team news: Jamie Blamire starts against Bath

Friday 04 November 2022 Written by: Adam

The 24-year-old started the first two games of the campaign in the back row but takes over the No.2 shirt from George McGuigan, who is named on the bench following his midweek release from England’s training squad.

Elliott Obatoyinbo starts at full-back after scoring in the Falcons’ Premiership Rugby Cup victory at Leicester Tigers last time out, while Michael Young captains the side from scrum-half.

Matthew Dalton continues in the second row having made his Premiership debut at Northampton three weeks ago, when Newcastle took a pair of bonus points from a dramatic 32-31 defeat.

That was followed by a bye weekend and then the cancellation of their away game at Wasps, head coach Dave Walder saying: “Not having a league game for three weeks is challenging from a preparation point of view, especially when it’s at short notice, and it forces you to think on your feet.

“The first week we knew about because that was our scheduled bye week, and you have plans in place with your conditioning coaches to manage the guys through that period. Having the Wasps game cancelled only a few days before has obviously forced us to change our plans a little bit, but every club is in the same boat and you just look to keep the boys as battle-hardened as you can even when they haven’t played for three weeks.”

Sean Robinson misses the 3pm kick-off after being retained by England, who face an Argentina squad including Mateo Carreras, Matias Orlando and Matias Moroni. Greg Peterson, meanwhile, is away in Dubai helping his USA side try to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2023.

Saturday’s visit of Bath will be the 250th Premiership game to have been held at Kingston Park Stadium, with Walder having played in a significant number of those fixtures during his own playing days.

“It’s nice to reach that kind of milestone, and having appeared in a fair few of those I know how much of a factor it can be in our favour,” said the Falcons boss.

“There have been a lot of great games here over the years, we love the atmosphere that our fans create and we know it’s a ground that opposition teams don’t like coming to. It’s our home, we love it and we hope to be celebrating the 250th Premiership game here with another good win.”

Unperturbed by the absence of his international contingent, the former England fly-half added: “It’s great for us as a club having guys involved at international level, even if it does leave us a little bit thin in certain areas.

“You want your players to be operating at the top level because they will learn from being in that environment, and it helps get Newcastle Falcons’ name out there when people see our players representing their countries in major internationals.

“It’s an opportunity for the guys coming in to show us what they can do and drive that competition within the squad, and as much as I would want them to be here I’m delighted they will be playing for their countries.”

Up against a Bath side who recorded their first win of the season last time out against Northampton Saints, Walder said: “Bath have got a new coaching team so it takes a while for your ideas to bed in, as we’ve found ourselves to some degree.

“We’ve only actually had Mark Wilson as a new addition to our coaching group but a couple of guys have had a change in role, and we’ve brought in a reasonable amount of change to how we do certain things.

“Bath have also been closer in games than maybe some of their score-lines have suggested, and they’ve obviously had their win against Northampton in their last game. They’ve gone back to a simple game plan to build from the bottom up, they’ve got some really good players and it will be a good test.

“We’ve had games where we’re one bounce of the ball or a referee’s decision away from winning, but it is what it is and we’ll just continue working hard.

“We’ve identified as a group of coaches where we want to be and how we’re going to get there, and we’ve started along that road. We’re pleased with some of the performances, we just need to cut out those periods in games where we’ve not been at our best. If we can just hang in there, those tight moments will start to turn for us.”

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**Newcastle Falcons team v Bath Rugby (Saturday, 3pm, Kingston Park Stadium)**

15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Michael Young (captain); 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Richard Palframan, 4 Matthew Dalton, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Freddie Lockwood, 7 Connor Collett, 8 Callum Chick.

**Replacements:** 16 George McGuigan, 17 Phil Brantingham, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 George Merrick, 20 Guy Pepper, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Tom Penny.

**Not available for selection:** Mateo Carreras, Sam Clark, Trevor Davison, Carl Fearns, Gary Graham, Conor Kenny, Matias Moroni, Logovi’i Mulipola, Matias Orlando, Josh Peters, Greg Peterson, Sean Robinson, Oliver Spencer, Philip van der Walt, Will Welch.

**Bath Rugby:** 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Gabriel Hamer-Webb, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 George Worboys, 9 Max Green; 1 Valeriy Morozov, 2 Tom Dunn (captain), 3 D’Arcy Rae, 4 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Quinn Roux, 6 Ted Hill, 7 Miles Reid, 8 Richard de Carpentier.

**Replacements:** 16 Niall Annett, 17 Arthur Cordwell, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Tom Ellis, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Tom Carr-Smith, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Jonathan Joseph.

**Referee:** Hamish Smales.