Newcastle Falcons have announced a side showing seven changes from the team that dispatched Bucharest Wolves in last weekend’s European Rugby Challenge Cup as a number of players drop out with illness ahead of the match against Newport.
Simon Hammersley, returns to the fullback position he has impressed in so far this season, with Lee Smith moving to the Left Wing to accommodate. Alex Tait replaces Noah Cato on the right wing while last week’s impressive centre combination of Chris Harris and Tom Penny remains in situ.
In the half backs, Rory Clegg remains at Fly Half while Ruki Tipuna replaces the ill Warren Fury at scrum half,
In the forwards, Rob Vickers comes into the starting line up at Loosehead Prop alongside Rob Hawkins and Kieran Brookes in the front row while there is an entirely new combination in the second row in the shape of Scott MacLeod and Sean Robinson.
In the back row Andy Saull and Mark Wilson remain at Openside Flanker and Number 8 while captain Will Welch returns in place of Dan Temm on the Blindside Flank.
On the bench Eric Fry, Alex Rogers and Oliver Tomaszczyk provide the front row cover while Dan Temm, Andy Davies, Craig Willis and Tom Catterick retain places in the squad following last week’s win.
In what is top of the pool clash after the results in round one, Director of Rugby Dean Richards is hoping his team can keep up its winning momentum that has seen the Falcons record three consecutive victories in as many weeks.
“The squad is another good blend of youth and experience and one we are confident will put in another positive performance on Friday.”
“We’ve had a number of late withdrawals through illness in the last 24 hours, including Warren at Scrum Half, but we’re fortunate we can then call up a player like Ruki and we will be looking to everyone to deliver the professional job they always do”
“There are a number of guys who have missed out on an involvement in this European window, including Sean Brown who was had to undergo on operation on his wrist and who we wish a very speedy recover to.”
Turning attentions to this weekend’s opposition, Richards says the Welsh region are expected to provide tough opposition on their own patch.
“Newport are going to be in a confident mood after their win last week in Paris and will be giving everything in front of their home fans on Friday, so we are going to have to be sharp and precise to keep our momentum going but I am confident if the boys play our game and our defence stays strong, we will be competitive.”
Newcastle Falcons v Newport Gwent Dragons 24 October – KO 19:30
15.Simon Hammersley, 14. Alex Tait, 13. Tom Penny, 12. Chris Harris, 11. Lee Smith, 10. Rory Clegg, 9. Ruki Tipuna; 1. Rob Vickers, 2. Rob Hawkins, 3. Kieran Brookes, 4. Scott Macleod, 5. Sean Robinson, 6. Will Welch, (c) 7. Andy Saull, 8. Mark Wilson.
Replacements 16.Alex Rogers, 17. Eric Fry, 18. Oliver Tomaszczyk, 19. Will Witty, 20. Dan Temm, 21. Andy Davies, 22. Craig Willis, 23. Tom Catterick