Newcastle Falcons v Bath Rugby Premiership Preview

Newcastle Falcons hostBath at Kingston Park

Bath have named a team with three changes to their starting line up for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership clash with Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park.

Up front, Nick Auterac returns to take his position on the loosehead side of the scrum, with Ross Batty and Henry Thomas alongside him.

Matt Garvey and Charlie Ewels are partnered in the engine room, as Guy Mercer again captains the team from the openside. Completing the pack are Leroy Houston on the blindside and David Denton at the base of the scrum.

Niko Matawalu joins Rhys Priestland in the half-backs, with the midfield combination of Ollie Devoto and Jonathan Joseph continuing.

Matt Banahan is the final change to the side that beat Worcester last weekend, coming onto the left wing. Horacio Agulla moves across to the right wing and Tom Homer keeps his place at fullback.

Newcastle Falcons only two league points this season came in a 15-all draw at Sale at the end of November.

Falcons have played five matches at Kingston Park in major tournaments this season with their two victories both being in Europe against Russian outfit Enisei, and Connacht.

Bath Rugby beat Worcester Warriors 21-14 at the Recreation Ground in Aviva Premiership Rugby on Sunday but have yet to win successive matches in the tournament this season.

Bath have won four of their last six away games in Premiership Rugby, only losing at Wasps and at Leicester in that sequence.

Newcastle’s only victory over Bath in their last 20 encounters in all tournaments since 2004 was 27-16 at the Recreation Ground in October 2009.

Bath have won on their last ten visits to Kingston Park since their last defeat there in October 2003.

Newcastle have named their team and promoted Argentine international Juan Pablo Socino to the starting line up from the bench.

Having gained 18 minutes as a replacement at Welford Road this weekend Socino will this week step into the starting line up in place of countryman Belisario at Inside Centre, where he will partner Chris Harris.

Elsewhere on the field 20-year-old Craig Willis continues at Fly Half after an assured first Premiership Start in the number 10 shirt last weekend.

The rest of the Falcons’ back line remains unchanged, Scrum Half Michael Young preparing to face his former side for the first time since returning to the North East.

Marcus Watson will be hoping to face brother Anthony as the European Rugby Challenge Cup’s leading try scorer returns on the Falcons’ wing alongside Alex Tait while Simon Hammersley makes his sixth start of the season at Fullback.

The Falcons’ pack that was dominant throughout last weekend’s match against Leicester continues unchanged, Mark Wilson making his second start of the season in second row alongside Sean Robinson.

Ahead of them Bobby Vickers makes his ninth appearance of the season at Loosehead after playing in every one of the Falcons’ Aviva Premiership games during 2015. He is joined in the front row by George McGuigan at Hooker and Scotland international Jon Welsh at Tighthead.

Completing the pack are Flankers Ally Hogg and club captain Will Welch with Tongan national captain and last weekend’s try scorer Nili Latu once again pulling on the Falcons’ No. 8 jersey.

On the bench Prop Paddy Ryan is in line to make his first appearance for the Falcons since joining from French club Libourne in the summer, fellow Prop Alex Rogers continuing as a replacement alongside him.

Elsewhere in the Falcons replacements international players Scott Lawson (Scotland), Mouritz Botha (England) and Todd Clever (USA) will be waiting in the wings to provide further support to the pack.

Tongan international Scrum Half Sonatane Takulua lines up alongside Tom Catterick and Belisario Agulla to complete the Falcons bench.

The Bookies have given Newcastle a 7 point start for this Match – with an offer of up to £200 in Bonus bets.

Match : Newcastle Falcons v Bath Rugby
Date : Saturday 2 January
Venue : Kingston Park,
Kick Off : 3pm
Live on: N.A
Match Officials
Referee :Matthew Carley (36th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Wayne Falla & John Meredith.
TMO: Sean Davey.



15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Michael Young , 8 Nili Latu, 7 Will Welch (C), 6 Ally Hogg, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Mark Wilson, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Rob Vickers

Replacements ;16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Todd Clever, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Tom Catterick, 23 Belisario Agulla.


15. Tom Homer, 14. Horacio Agulla, 13. Jonathan Joseph, 12. Ollie Devoto, 11. Matt Banahan, 10. Rhys Priestland, 9. Niko Matawalu, 8. David Denton, 7. Guy Mercer (c), 6. Leroy Houston, 5. Charlie Ewels, 4. Matt Garvey, 3. Henry Thomas, 2. Ross Batty, 1. Nick Auterac

Replacements : 16. Rob Webber, 17. Max Lahiff, 18. David Wilson, 19. Dominic Day, 20. Francois Louw, 21. Jonathan Evans, 22. George Ford, 23. Anthony Watson

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