Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors Premiership Preview

Newcastle Falcons host Worcester Warriors at Kingston Park

Worcesters Warriors have recalled Phil Dowson to their starting line up to face Newcastle Falcons on Friday at Kingston Park.

The experienced back row is the only change to the starting 15 which pushed Northampton Saints last weekend.

Dowson partners captain GJ van Velze and Dewald Potgieter in the back row while Donncha O’Callaghan lines up with Darren Barry in the second row.

Jaba Bregvadze keeps his place at hooker alongside props Val Rapava Ruskin and Nick Schonert, with the latter having started every Aviva Premiership game this term.

Cooper Vuna, the only other Warrior to have started every league game this season, is joined by Chris Pennell and Bryce Heem in the back three while Francois Hougaard starts at scrum-half where he’ll continue to link-up with stand-off Tom Heathcote.

Ryan Mills and Wynand Olivier form the midfield partnership while Sam Betty is named on the replacements bench and could be set for his first appearance since January’s clash at Wasps.

Director of Rugby Dean Ryan said: “There’s nobody here that doesn’t understand the significance of this game.

“Newcastle have developed a style of play which suits them at home and they’ve got decent momentum.

“The addition of Andy Goode has given them a boost. He’s been a catalyst for their success.

“The game will be a bit faster on the 4G up there so it’ll be more dynamic around rucks.

“We have to attack. I think it will suit us and the surface up there. Fingers crossed we don’t get a storm because conditions can dictate how you approach a game in Newcastle.”

Newcastle Falcons’ last eight fixtures in Aviva Premiership Rugby have all gone in favour of the home side on the day.

The Falcons most recent home reversal in any tournament came when Saracens visited Kingston Park in Premiership Rugby in early December.

Worcester Warriors have won just one first team game since mid-November: 31-23 at home to Sale Sharks in Aviva Premiership Rugby in 20th February.

The Warriors have lost all ten away games they have played in any tournament this season.

Worcester won 28-20 when the two clubs met at Sixways in round 4 and they have never manged to achieve a Premiership Rugby double over Falcons in the same season.

Worcester were triumphant on their most recent visit to Newcastle: 17-12 in March 2014.

Newcastle Falcons Director of Rugby Dean Richards has made five changes to the starting XV that took on Gloucester last weekend as the team look to extend their home winning run to seven games in a row.

In the backline, Alex Tait returns to the right wing in place of Giamba Venditti in an otherwise settled selection that sees Simon Hammersley at fullback, Chris Harris and Adam Powell in the centres and Marcus Watson on the left wing.

Having shaken off the niggle that forced him to drop out against Gloucester, Andy Goode returns to the Fly Half position, while Michael Young returns as starting scrum half.

In the front row, the effective trio of Rob Vickers, Scott Lawson and Taione Vea remain as the starting loose head, hooker and tight head respectively, while Mark Wilson resumes his second row partnership with Sean Robinson.

In the back row, there is a welcome return for Nili Latu, who has recovered from the injury he sustained at the end of the match against Leicester Tigers alongside captain Will Welch and Ally Hogg.

On the bench, George McGuigan, Alex Rogers and Kensuke Hatakeyama provide front row options, while Mouritz Botha and Callum Chick, cover the second and back rows.

Chick’s inclusion sees the 19 year old in line to make his first Aviva Premiership appearance for the club, having already made his first senior starts back in January in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.

Sonatane Takulua swaps places with Young to take the replacement scrum half spot, while Craig Willis and Juan Pable Socino complete the match day squad.

The Bookies have given Worcester Warriors a 6 point start for this Match – with an offer of up to £200 in Bonus bets.

Match : Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors
Date : Friday 4 March
Venue : Kingston Park,
Kick Off : 7.45pm
Live on: BT Sport
Match Officials
Referee :Wayne Barnes (165th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden & Robin Goodliffe.
TMO: Sean Davey.

Teams

Newcastle Falcons

15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Marcus Watson 10 Andy Goode, 9 Michael Young, 1 Rob Vickers, 2 Scott Lawson, 3 Taione Vea, 4 Mark Wilson, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Will Welch (C), 7 Nili Latu, 8 Ally Hogg

Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Kensuke Hatakeyama, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Callum Chick, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Craig Willis, 23 Juan Pablo Socino

Warriors

15 Chris Pennell , 14 Bryce Heem , 13 Wynand Olivier , 12 Ryan Mills , 11 Cooper Vuna , 10 Tom Heathcote , 9 Francois Hougaard , 1 Val Rapava Ruskin , 2 Jaba Bregvadze , 3 Nick Schonert , 4 Donncha O’Callaghan , 5 Darren Barry , 6 Phil Dowson , 7 Dewald Potgieter , 8 GJ van Velze (C)

Replacements: 16 Niall Annett , 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga , 18 James Johnston , 19 Dan Sanderson , 20 Sam Betty , 21 Luke Baldwin , 22 Ryan Lamb , 23 Andy Symons

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