Mark Wilson captains the side

Eight changes for Lyon re-match

Friday 16 December 2016

Captain Mark Wilson is among the returning players as Newcastle Falcons make eight changes for Sunday’s European Challenge Cup visit of Lyon to Kingston Park Stadium (kick-off 3pm).

Wilson forms part of a rejigged back-row as his side seek revenge for last week’s 42-12 loss in the French city, Daniel Temm shifting to the blind-side flank as Callum Chick replaces Harrison Orr at No 8. Calum Green returns from suspension to take up his place in the second row, Jon Welsh replacing David Wilson at tight-head prop.

A new half-back pairing sees Sonatane Takulua and Joel Hodgson teaming up - Dan Marshall starting on the right wing in a back-line which sees Juan Pablo Socino brought in at inside centre. Craig Willis returns from a four-week ban to take a place on the bench, director of rugby Dean Richards adamant the European Challenge Cup remains a useful exercise despite his side having slipped to third place in their group.

He said: “Our bread and butter has always been the Aviva Premiership, and it always will be. Having said that, Sunday is a game we want to win. It might not be ‘must win’ in terms of our ambitions in the Premiership, but we will go out and do our damnedest.

“We sat down this year, looked at the fixtures and said we wanted to go for the European competition. Yeah, we got thumped down at Ospreys, but at the same time going to Lyon we felt that, if we could out a reasonable team, we would do very well. The issue we had was that while it was a good team on paper, it lacked experience of playing a big game in France against a Lyon team who wanted to progress. That inexperience cost us.

“We have used this tournament over the years and it benefits our youngsters really well. The experience that Sam Egerton and Brett Connon will have had as our starting half-backs last week in Lyon will have been absolutely superb, and they will have learnt so much in terms of grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck. It is only in environments like that where you do, and provided they understand where things went wrong and how to rectify it, they will take a lot from it.”

Paying no attention to old stereotypes about French teams not travelling well in Europe, Richards added: “People say the French are notoriously bad away from home, and that was something which was bandied about 10 or 15 years ago. They have improved dramatically over the years, although you do get occasions where they don’t sometimes turn up.

“With so many foreigners now in France that notion has diminished massively. The influence of the non-French players has pretty much removed it from the French psyche now, and far more of their teams now win away from home. It depends on what their motivation is. They are third from bottom in the French Top 14, and from that side of things their bread and butter has to be the league, but we know they will give us a good game.”

Tickets for Sunday’s 3pm kick-off are available by calling 0871 226 6060, clicking here or from the stadium on the day. Season ticket members are reminded that this game is included as part of their package, while the Lyon match is also included in the half-season ticket if booked before 4pm on Saturday December 17.

Newcastle Falcons team to face Lyon (Sunday, 3pm, Kingston Park Stadium)

15 Tom Catterick

14 Dan Marshall

13 Fred Burdon

12 Juan Pablo Socino

11 Zach Kibirige

10 Joel Hodgson

9 Sonatane Takulua

1 Alex Rogers

2 Ben Sowrey

3 Jon Welsh

4 Calum Green

5 Nick Civetta

6 Daniel Temm

7 Mark Wilson (captain)

8 Callum Chick

Replacements

16 David Nelson

17 Rob Vickers

18 Paddy Ryan

19 Glen Young

20 Harrison Orr

21 Sam Egerton

22 Craig Willis

23 Belisario Agulla

Lyon

15 Jerome Porical

14 Thibaut Regard

13 Paul Bonnefond

12 Pierre-Louis Barassi

11 Franck Romanet

10 Romain Loursac

9 Augustin Figuerola (captain)

1 Sami Mavinga

2 Cameron Mapusua

3 David Attoub

4 Josh Bekhuis

5 Maselino Paulino

6 Dylan Cretin

7 Didier Tison

8 Tai Tuifua

Replacements

16 Ti'i Paulo

17 Alexandre Menini

18 Hamza Kaabèche

19 Andres Zafra Tarazona

20 Deon Fourie

21 Jacques Louis Potgieter

22 Nicolas Durand

23 Baptiste Couilloud

Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland)

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