Vereniki Goneva

Falcons look to sign 2018 off in style

Thursday 27 December 2018

Newcastle Falcons travel to Bristol Bears in Sunday's Gallagher Premiership clash in their final outing of a memorable 2018.

The calendar year saw the Falcons reaching their first ever Premiership semi-final after achieving their highest league placing in two decades, with the semi-finals also reached in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and European Challenge Cup.

Playing Heineken Champions Cup rugby for the first time in 14 seasons and achieving notable victories over French giants Toulon and Montpellier, it is strictly a forward focus for the Falcons as they look to end 2018 on a high with victory at Ashton Gate.

Newcastle have take nine points from their last three Premiership games, beating Bath and Northampton before taking a losing bonus point from third-placed Gloucester in a game which was only decided by a late penalty.

The Falcons are one from one at Ashton Gate after winning 39-27 in their only match at the venue back in May 2017, while their last six meetings with Bristol in all competitions have yielded just one defeat, that coming in an RFU Championship dead rubber during the 2012/13 promotion season.

Bristol boss Pat Lam is of course well-known to Falcons supporters as an instrumental member of the squad which lifted the 1997/8 Premiership title, his Bears side committed to keeping the ball alive in a start to the season which has seen them making the most passes and carries per game in the Premiership but conceding the most points.

Newcastle players feature prominently in the season-long Opta stats going into round 11, Simon Hammersley leading the league for metres made after running 724 metres with ball in hand - 73 more than nearest rival Alex Goode.

Hammersley sits third in the 'carries' chart with 122 forays, and fourth for 'defenders beaten' on 33, while Calum Green is the most prolific line-out taker in the land on 45, sitting joint second for steals on five.

The round ten stats saw Vereniki Goneva and Bristol's Steven Luatua tied for top spot with 18 carries each, Gary Graham and Toby Flood putting in the second and third most tackles with 20 and 19 respectively.

Tevita Cavubati was joint second in the air after taking a total of six line-outs, all the statistical and sporting signs pointing towards a dramatic and full-blooded encounter at Ashton Gate on Sunday.

Newcastle Falcons' next home game is on Saturday January 5 when Harlequins are the Gallagher Premiership visitors to Kingston Park Stadium. Tickets for the 3pm kick-off can be bought by clicking here.

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