Team news: McGuigan back for Saints clash

Friday 07 January 2022 Written by: Adam

The Kingston Park Stadium clash is a 3pm kick-off, with the Falcons pack seeing the return of hooker George McGuigan and No.8 Callum Chick.

Tom Penny comes onto the wing as the only back-line change with Adam Radwan having to isolate, while fit-again England hooker Jamie Blamire is able to take up a place on the bench.

Hoping for a repeat of last season’s home victory against the Saints, director of rugby Dean Richards said: “Getting back in front of our home supporters will be a massive thing for the boys, having missed out on the Boxing Day game.

“We like being on our pitch, and even though the weather has been a bit lively during the week, the forecast for the weekend is actually not too bad.

“Northampton are a good side, and you can’t take anything away from them.

“They love to play their rugby, they’ll be a tough proposition but at the same time we’re competitive against anybody on our own patch.”

Both the Falcons and Saints were defeated by sides in the Premiership’s two on Sunday – Newcastle losing at unbeaten league leaders Leicester Tigers on the same day that Northampton were beaten 30-6 at home by Saracens.

“We were very disappointed last weekend,” said Richards.

“We didn’t deserve to win, we didn’t play the conditions well and our execution wasn’t great. You’ve also got to take into account the fact that Leicester had something like 180 caps worth of experience at half-back, and that experience told on the day.

“They don’t play in their own half, they have a good kick-chase and they put teams under pressure. They kick more than any other team in the Premiership but they’re really accurate with it, and their outside backs are picked predominantly for their ability to chase kicks.

“Territory for them is everything, and they won that battle hands-down last weekend. We had plenty of the ball but it was in the wrong areas, and once you get into that spiral Leicester are really effective at pouncing on you and compounding every error.

“The main lesson we’ve taken from last weekend is how to put the pressure onto the opposition quicker than what we did at Welford Road.

“There was a bit of frank talking after the game about how we can better exploit that, and then obviously just the usual thing of making sure you take your opportunities, which we didn’t do last Sunday.”

On Northampton, he added: “If you watch the game in full, it wasn’t quite as one-sided as perhaps the score-line suggests.

“They put up a good performance and probably could have gone in at half-time a few points up. They’ve got quality in their pack, as they do out wide, and it will be a difficult game.”

Saturday’s match is not live on TV in the UK, so being there in person is the only way to see all the action.

[**Click here**][1] to buy tickets.

[**Click here**][2] to book stadium parking.

Supporters are also welcome to stay on after the match to watch the stars of the future, with Newcastle Falcons’ Under-18s hosting their Leicester Tigers counterparts at 5.30pm on the main pitch.

Those attending are advised that Covid passports are NOT required at Kingston Park Stadium. Masks must be worn when entering and leaving the stadium. However, masks are not required when outdoors watching the match, indoors in a hospitality setting or when eating or drinking. We do advise that for the safety of yourself and others you also wear a mask when moving around the venue. We also politely request that you take a lateral flow test before joining us at the stadium. All club and match-day staff will be lateral flow tested, for your safety.

[**Click here**][3] to read Newcastle Falcons’ match-day protocols in relation to Covid.

**Newcastle Falcons team v Northampton Saints (Saturday, 3pm, Kingston Park Stadium)**

15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Penny, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Louis Schreuder; 1 Kyle Cooper, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Philip van der Walt, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Callum Chick.

**Replacements:** 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Carl Fearns, 20 Gary Graham, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Brett Connon, 23 George Wacokecoke.

**Northampton Saints:** 15 George Furbank, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Alex Mitchell; 1 Alex Waller, 2 Sam Matavesi, 3 Paul Hill, 4 David Ribbans, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 6 Tom Wood, 7 Lewis Ludlam (captain), 8 Teimana Harrison.

**Replacements:** 16 James Fish, 17 Emmanuel Iyogun, 18 Ehren Painter, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Karl Wilkins, 21 Tom James, 22 Tom Litchfield, 23 Tommy Freeman.

**Referee:** Matthew Carley.