Walder excited for Sale Sharks test on Friday

Wednesday 21 December 2022 Written by: Adam

The clash of the league’s two northern clubs is a 7.45pm kick-off at Kingston Park Stadium, with Newcastle hosting a Sale side sitting second in the table after a flying start to the competition.

The Falcons have won their last four home games against the Sharks in league action, with Walder anticipating a mixture of brain and brawn from Friday’s visitors.

“Sale are a big physical side as everyone knows, but I think they play more rugby than they often get credit for,” he said.

“They move the ball well, Rob du Preez is one of the most improved players in the Premiership with the way he’s controlling things from ten, and as well as their big ball-carriers they’re mixing things up a bit.

“Their defensive record is up at the top of the league, they’ll be a big test and we’re really looking forward to facing them on Friday night.”

Both sides come into the game on the back of European defeats, with Newcastle losing at home to Cardiff on Saturday and Sale feeling the full force of a power-packed Toulouse outfit the day after.

“A short turnaround and coming back from France won’t be easy for them, and just limits your preparation time as well as obviously not offering a lot of time for guys to overcome the various bumps and bruises,” said Walder.

“It was a big Toulouse pack and a very physical game, but Sale are a good squad and I’m sure they’ll have a couple of days of organisational work coming into Friday, even if they’re not out that much on the training field.

“They’re fairly consistent in terms of how they play, and looking at where they are at second in the league, you definitely can’t take them lightly in any way. They’ll be doing their best to replenish the energy levels after a bruising game in Toulouse and we’re looking forward to the occasion.”

The Falcons’ geographical isolation in the North East of the country means the Sharks are about the nearest thing they have to local rivals, with Walder relishing the prospect of a bumper festive crowd.

“It’s probably pushing it to call it a ‘derby’ game when you’re 150-odd miles away, but it’s the Premiership’s other northern club and we’ve enjoyed some great battles with Sale over the years,” he said.

“The crowd I’m sure will get into it with being the Christmas fixture, and it’s always nice for groups of family and friends to come together and have a night out at the rugby.”

Among Newcastle’s squad are the Argentinean trio of Mateo Carreras, Matias Moroni and Matias Orlando, whose country is enjoying a national holiday on the back of their football team’s World Cup success.

“The Argentinean boys have understandably been a bit lively this week,” joked Walder.

“They turned up in their Argentina football kits on Monday morning as people might have seen on the club twitter, and even when the lads pulled them up in the fines meeting for wearing non-Falcons-branded kit they came back with another round of singing.

“But fair play, who can blame them. They all watched it together, and they’ve come into training full of it on the back of a great result for their country.”

[**Click here to buy tickets for Friday’s game.**][1]

[1]: https://www.eticketing.co.uk/newcastle-falcons/EDP/Event/Index/1751?position=4