Team news: Jamie Blamire starts against Zebre

Friday 08 April 2022 Written by: Adam

The 8pm kick-off at Kingston Park Stadium is the final game of the group campaign, with the Falcons keen to kick on from last weekend’s 45-10 away win over Worcester Warriors.

Sticking with largely the same group of players from the six-try triumph, director of rugby Dean Richards said: “We’d been so close over the previous six or seven weeks, losing a number of close games late on, so it was nice to see it all coming together at Worcester.

“The boys looked fresh, they’d prepared well and we were delighted with what they produced. It’s only one win so nobody is going overboard, but I was really happy for the lads after all the hard work they’ve put in.

“We’ve had a lot of injuries, particularly in the back row, although I thought the young lads have come in over the last month or so and been outstanding. Freddie Lockwood and Josh Basham got through a ton of work, and complemented everything that Will Welch did.”

Hooker George McGuigan will play his 150th game for the Falcons should he be called upon from the bench, with the Gallagher Premiership’s top try-scorer this week being named the league’s Player of the Month.

Fellow front-rower Mark Tampin is also in line for an appearance milestone as he prepares to come on for his 50th game, with Richards taking nothing for granted against his Italian visitors.

“Saturday’s game is absolutely not a given, and nobody here is approaching it in that way,” he said.

“Zebre are a good team, and even though they’ve lost a lot of games they’ve been really competitive, so we’re expecting a good test.

“We feel like we’ve turned a bit of a corner last weekend, even though we’d not been playing too badly, to be fair, over the previous six weeks.

“We’ve been there or thereabouts against some good sides, and down at Worcester we showed people a clearer picture of what we’re about when it all comes together.

“Hopefully we can continue that this weekend and earn a home game in the round of 16 the following week, and it’s a tournament we want to win as well as a way of keeping our momentum going for the return of Premiership action.”

Determined to land a home tie in the EPCR Challenge Cup round of 16 over Easter, he added: “We’d like a home game next weekend, and ultimately to win some silverware for our supporters.

“Zebre are a committed side, they have a lot of quality players and a number of internationals.

“We have our own Italian international in Marco Fuser, which has been useful during our preparation, and we had an Italian quiz during the week just as a bit of fun for the boys. I think questions need to be asked if Marco isn’t winning that quiz, but all joking aside he has been able to give us some good insight, and he’ll be keen to put in a big performance.”

Saturday’s 8pm kick-off against Zebre Parma forms the second part of a double header of matches at Kingston Park Stadium, with the Falcons’ A-team taking on Scottish side Heriot’s at 4.30pm.

Season ticket members are reminded that both games are included in their 2021-22 package.

Non-season ticket members can [**click here**][1] to book their tickets.

**Newcastle Falcons team v Zebre Parma (Saturday, 8pm, Kingston Park Stadium)**

15 Tom Penny, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Louis Schreuder; 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Marco Fuser, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Josh Basham, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Freddie Lockwood.

**Replacements:** 16 George McGuigan, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 Rob Farrar, 21 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Ben Stevenson.

**Zebre Parma:** 15 Jacopo Trulla, 14 Asaeli Tuivuaka, 13 Erich Cronjé, 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Simone Gesi, 10 Antonio Rizzi, 9 Alessandro Fusco; 1 Danilo Fischetti, 2 Luca Bigi (captain), 3 Ion Neculai, 4 Gabriele Venditti, 5 Andrea Zambonin, 6 Luca Andreani, 7 Maxime Mbanda, 8 Taina Fox-Matamua.

**Replacements:** 16 Giampietro Ribaldi, 17 Daniele Rimpelli, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Potu Junior Leavasa, 20 Jimmy Tuivaiti, 21 Gugliel Palazzani, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Junior Laloifi.

**Referee:** Ludovic Cayre (France).