Team news: Orlando back to face Sale Sharks

Thursday 28 April 2022 Written by: Adam

The 30-year-old, who this week announced a new two-year contract to remain on Tyneside, forms part of a Falcons side showing five changes from the one which started against London Irish last Friday.

Alex Tait starts at full-back with Tom Penny ruled out by a thumb injury, while an injury to George Wacokecoke sees Ben Stevenson pushed infield to the centres, with Adam Radwan filling the vacated wing spot.

Richard Palframan comes in at tight-head prop as Trevor Davison switches to the loose-head side in place of the injured Adam Brocklebank, with Gary Graham starting on the blind-side flank.

Second row George Merrick comes onto the bench, as does former Sale Sharks man Carl Fearns, with Freddie Lockwood and Josh Basham both missing out through injury. Scrum-half James Blackett, meanwhile, is in line for his Premiership debut if he comes on as a replacement, with the 20-year-old academy graduate having played twice in the cup this season.

“It’s normally an incredibly physical battle whenever you play Sale Sharks,” said director of rugby Dean Richards, with the two sides yet to meet in the league this season following the Covid-related cancellation of their Boxing Day clash at Kingston Park.

“We looked at Sale’s last game and their numbers two through to ten were all South African, so you know what you’re going to get.

“Everyone’s aware of their style of rugby and how they will approach the game, and with Alex Sanderson being from the Saracens fold it’s no surprise that they’ve followed that style of rugby. It will be a brutal game with a lot of kicking and exits, and it’s incredibly effective.”

Looking to end the season strongly, Richards is hopeful of an improvement following last weekend’s home loss to London Irish

“We were obviously disappointed with the Irish game,” he said.

“We lost Sean Robinson to a yellow card which we felt was harsh, and that had a big impact on the game. Irish scored two tries during that period and pulled away from us, and when you’re chasing the game like that against a team packed with internationals, it’s always going to be tough.

“There was no shortage of endeavour from our boys, but it’s just having that accuracy and discipline in what we’re doing.”

Preparing to embark on the Premiership’s so-called ‘northern derby’ despite Newcastle and Sale being more than 150 miles apart, Richards said: “There’s a good relationship between the two clubs – whether you would call it a fondness or a friendly rivalry.

“It doesn’t affect how we approach the games between each other – it’s just the same as any match to us, and probably to them too – but we do share certain characteristics.

“We’re the two most northern sides in the Premiership, and that means we often get overlooked by various factions, whether it be the RFU, RPA, agents or whatever. They don’t come up quite this far a lot of the time, and that’s just the way life is. We accept that, and we both suffer the same situations on a year-by-year basis. It’s not a hardship at all, and we quite like it at times if we don’t get visits from certain people.”

Insisting there is no shortage of incentive during the Falcons’ remaining matches this season despite the absence of relegation, Richards added: “We don’t want to finish bottom of the league, and that’s motivation in itself to win the last three games.”

Friday’s game is being shown on PRTV Live for £4.99. [**Click here**][1] to buy the stream.

**Newcastle Falcons team to face Sale Sharks (Friday, 7.45pm, AJ Bell Stadium)**

15 Alex Tait, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Matias Orlando, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti; 1 Trevor Davison, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Richard Palframan, 4 Philip van der Walt, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Gary Graham, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Callum Chick.

**Replacements:** 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 George Merrick, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 James Blackett, 22 Will Haydon-Wood, 23 Luther Burrell.

**Sale Sharks:** 15 Luke James, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Sam James, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Jack Metcalf, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Faf de Klerk (captain); 1 Bevan Rodd, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 3 Nick Schonert, 4 Cobus Wiese, 5 JP du Preez, 6 Jean-Luc du Preez, 7 Ben Curry, 8 Daniel du Preez.

**Replacements:** 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Matt Postlethwaite, 20 Tom Curry, 21 Gus Warr, 22 Connor Doherty, 23 Simon Hammersley.

**Referee:** Jack Makepeace.