Team news: Pumas pair back to face Exeter

Thursday 24 November 2022 Written by: Adam

The Pumas pair are joined by USA lock Greg Peterson in coming back from their international commitments, with the Falcons looking to kick on from the 27-21 away win they achieved on their last league outing at Gloucester.

Brett Connon continues at fly-half after kicking five from five in the Kingsholm clash, Ben Stevenson starting on the right wing. Carl Fearns returns from a knee injury to start at No.8, with scrum-half Michael Young once again captaining the side.

Sean Robinson and Adam Radwan are among the replacements following their midweek release from England’s training squad, with Matias Orlando also on the bench having played a full 80 minutes for Argentina against Scotland last Saturday.

Newcastle Falcons and Exeter Chiefs’ last two Gallagher Premiership meetings have been decided by just a single point with one win for each club, and head coach Dave Walder expects a physical evening against the Devon outfit.

“Exeter have big ball-carriers, they’re very physical and they like to play with tempo right from the start,” said the Falcons boss.

“They try to put you under pressure when they’ve got the ball in hand, and their backs try to exploit the wide channels off the back of that. It’s a keep-ball style of game, a bit different to how a lot of other Premiership teams play, but it’s a method which has been very successful for them.

“They’re a different team from when we beat them at their place this time last year, they’ve got a new defence coach whose playing style is more aggressive and confrontational, and they’ve gone back to that line-speed which they’d moved away from over the past year or so. They set up slightly differently, but they’re a formidable team and we’re excited about taking them on.”

Keen to take the positives from their away victory over Gloucester, Walder added: “It was an important win for us, more for the confidence of the group than anything else.

“It gave the boys the belief that the things they’re doing every day are pointing us in the right direction, and the most pleasing thing was the attitude.

“Obviously you never want to see four of your players in the sin bin, but the way we ended up winning the game by digging in with 13 men against arguably the top mauling team in the country was really pleasing. It was a good way to win a game in testing circumstances, and as I say our attitude was the number-one thing.

“We had a big focus during the week with Micky Ward and Scott MacLeod in terms of how we were going to defend Gloucester’s maul, and we spent a lot of time on that.

“After the game people kept saying that was Gloucester’s second-string back line, but in fairness it was pretty much their first-choice pack. We were missing quite a few players of our own in the backs so it’s just one of those things, and it was pleasing to see a few things coming off that we’d worked on during the week.

“Mark Laycock had picked a couple of holes in their defence which we were able to exploit with our attacking strategy, and when we found ourselves under pressure we had the resilience to close out the game. We’re excited now about taking that momentum into the Exeter match on Friday, and they’re another big, heavy pack who take the game to you.

“They’ve got a style of rugby which they’ve been renowned for over the years, albeit they’ve tweaked it a little bit recently. They play a power-based game and look after the ball very well, they’ve got some big ball-carriers in their pack and some quick, powerful backs. They’re a good team overall, and it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to.”

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**Newcastle Falcons team v Exeter Chiefs (Friday, 7.45pm, Kingston Park Stadium)**

15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Ben Stevenson, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Tom Penny, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Michael Young (captain); 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Richard Palframan, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Callum Chick, 7 Guy Pepper, 8 Carl Fearns.

**Replacements:** 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Conrad Cade, 18 Logovi’i Mulipola, 19 Sean Robinson, 20 Freddie Lockwood, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Adam Radwan, 23 Matias Orlando.

**Not available for selection:** Phil Brantingham, Sam Clark, Connor Collett, Trevor Davison, Gary Graham, Louie Johnson, Conor Kenny, Pete Lucock, Oliver Spencer, Philip van der Walt, George Wacokecoke, Will Welch.

**Exeter Chiefs:** 15 Josh Hodge, 14 Dan John, 13 Sean O’Brien, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Jack Maunder; 1 Alec Hepburn, 2 Jack Yeandle (captain), 3 Harry Williams, 4 Ruben Van Heerden, 5 Dafydd Jenkins, 6 Lewis Pearson, 7 Christ Tshiunza, 8 Jacques Vermeulen.

**Replacements:** 16 Dan Frost, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Patrick Schickerling, 19 Jack Dunne, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Sam Maunder, 22 Will Becconsall, 23 Solomone Kata.

**Referee:** Karl Dickson.