Newcastle Falcons v Saracens Premiership Preview

Newcastle Falcons host Saracens at Kingston Park

Newcastle Falcons have named a side with two changes for this weekend’s Aviva Premiership match against league leaders and defending champions Saracens at Kingston Park on Sunday.

Last week in Round five Newcastle drew away with Sale Sharks so Director of Rugby Dean Richards has tried to be consistent and made just two changes.

Showing a tenacious resolve in the wind and rain at the AJ Bell Stadium, the Falcons come into the game knowing that performance will be required again against a side yet to lose a game this season.

Both changes come in the backline as Belisario Agulla and Tom Catterick come in for Giamba Venditti and Mike Delany respectively.

In what will be his first Premiership start, Agulla will be looking to harness the exciting form displayed in the European Challenge Cup against Brive and in the Aviva A League against Northampton and Worcester, as he continues to integrate well into the Kingston Park environment.

With Mike Delany out after leaving the field through injury last weekend, Tom Catterick makes his 46th Aviva Premiership start, continuing his ever presence in the match day 23 in season 2015/16 and resuming the orchestration of the side he performed against Brive and Enisei in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

Remaining in situ from round five, Alex Tait will again don the number 15 jersey following an assured display at fullback, Adam Powell and Juan Pablo Socino continue in the centres as Marcus Watson retains his starting spot on the left wing, while Michael Young continues to provide service from scrum half.

The pack that did so well in a traditional forward game in Salford is rewarded by remaining completely unchanged, with try scorers Rob Vickers and Jon Welsh packing down alongside George McGuigan in a front row that put in a full eighty minute shift last week.

Calum Green and Sean Robinson line up in the second while Mark Wilson, Will Welch and Nili Latu complete the scrum’s back row

The replacements bench also remains largely as it was in round five, with the only changes seeing Sonatane Takulua replace Ruki Tipuna, who picked up a knock during Monday night’s 75-22 win over Worcester Cavaliers in the Aviva A League and Craig Willis come in for the promoted Catterick.

As a result, Scott Lawson, Alex Rogers and Taione Vea provide cover for the front row, Mouritz Botha and Ally Hogg cover the remaining forward berths, while Chris Harris, who made a memorable, try scoring Aviva Premiership Rugby debut in the same fixture last December, will be looking to make the same kind of positive impact as at Sale when called upon.

Newcastle Falcons recorded their first two league point of the new Aviva Premiership Rugby season courtesy of a 15-all draw at Sale last Saturday.

Newcastle have won only one of their last 14 Premiership Rugby fixtures: 37-21 at home to Harlequins on 16th May.

Saracens continue to set the pace at the top of the Aviva Premiership rugby table with a perfect played five, won five record.

The defending champions have won their last ten matches in all competitions since Exeter Chiefs beat them at Allianz Park in Premiership Rugby in May.

Saracens have won the last dozen encounters between the two clubs in all tournaments since Newcastle were victorious in Premiership Rugby at Kingston Park in February 2009.

Saracens have won on their last five visits to Kingston Park with the Falcons recording a losing bonus point in each instance.

Meanwhile Saracens have named recent re-signing Jamie George as captain for this weekend’s clash. This is the second time this season that he will captain the side.

George will pack down alongside Richard Barrington (loosehead prop) and Juan Figallo (tighthead prop) in the Sarries front row. George Kruis and Maro Itoje will partner each other in the second row, with Alistair Hargreaves and Jim Hamilton both unavailable.

Will Fraser returns to the side at openside flanker, with Samulea Vunisa set to make his full Saracens debut from No8 – Jackson Wray continues at blindside flanker.

At half-back, Ben Spencer will make his fourth Premiership start of the season at scrumhalf after a fine display against Worcester Warriors in the London Double Header, and will partner Charlie Hodgson in the halves.

At centre, Scotland international Duncan Taylor will wear the No12 jersey with Nick Tompkins named at outside centre.

In the back-three, England international Alex Goode returns to the side and will link-up with Chris Wyles and Mike Ellery.

Ahead of the game, Mark McCall: “We are well aware of the task that faces us on Sunday afternoon. The Falcons ran us very close in our last meeting at Kingston Park, and we are expecting another tough game this weekend.

“We are on a good a run, but that will mean very little if we don’t turn up on Sunday with the right approach. Dean Richards has put together a very strong squad at Newcastle who are traditionally very strong at home. It will be a real test for us.”

Match : Newcastle Falcons v Saracens
Date : Sunday 6 December
Venue : Kingston Park,
Kick Off : 3pm
Live on: BT Sport
Match Officials
Referee :Andrew Small (120th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell & Andy Watson
TMO: David Grashoff.


Newcastle Falcons

15 Alex Tait, 14 Belisario Agulla, 13 Adam Powell, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Tom Catterick, 9 Michael Young, 1 Rob Vickers, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Jon Welsh, 4 Sean Robinson, 5 Calum Green, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch, 8 Nili Latu

Replacements : 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Taione Vea, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Sonatane Takulua 22 Craig Willis, 23 Chris Harris


15 Alex Goode , 14 Mike Ellery , 13 Nick Tompkins , 12 Duncan Taylor , 11 Chris Wyles , 10 Charlie Hodgson , 9 Ben Spencer , 1 Richard Barrington , 2 Jamie George © , 3 Juan Figallo , 4 Maro Itoje , 5 George Kruis , 6 Jackson Wray , 7 Will Fraser , 8 Samuela Vunisa

Replacements : 16 Jared Saunders , 17 Mako Vunipola , 18 Petrus Du Plessis , 19 Michael Rhodes , 20 Billy Vunipola , 21 Neil De Kock , 22 Tim Streather , 23 Ben Ransom

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