Team news: 200 up for Welch against Tigers

Friday 27 October 2017

Newcastle Falcons captain Will Welch will make his 200th competitive appearance for the club during Sunday’s sold-out Aviva Premiership visit of Leicester Tigers.

The 3pm kick-off sees the ‘sold-out’ signs going up at Kingston Park Stadium for the first time since May 2008 as a capacity crowd of 10,100 flocks watch the Falcons continue their storming start to the campaign, one which saw them going into the weekend at fourth in the league table and top of their European Challenge Cup group.

Delighted to have reached a double century at the age of just 27, Newcastle-born flanker Welch said: “It’s a great honour to have played so many games for the Falcons, especially bearing in mind I used to come here as a supporter when I was a kid.

“I used to stand on the North Terrace or sit in the West Stand, I’ve seen loads of great games here as a fan and it’s amazing to have been able to play in so many. Hopefully I’ve got a lot more left in me yet but it’s great to reach 200 and I count it is a privilege every time I pull on the shirt.”

Buoyed by the prospect of running out in front of a full house, Welch added: “Myself and all the lads are really looking forward to playing in front of what looks like being a sell-out crowd.

“The place is absolutely rocking when there are 7,000 people here, so it will be phenomenal to have another couple of thousand in and to have it completely sold out. Our ground isn’t massive but you get a heck of a noise going when it’s anywhere near full, and it really will make a huge difference to the boys.”

Sunday’s game sees fly-half Toby Flood starting his first Aviva Premiership game since rejoining the club, Sinoti Sinoti, Vereniki Goneva, Sonatane Takulua and Juan Pablo Socino returning to the back line after missing last week’s 21-20 European Challenge Cup victory at Bordeaux-Begles.

Hooker Kyle Cooper, flanker Mark Wilson and No 8 Nili Latu return in the pack, Welch confident the Falcons can take their Challenge Cup form back into the league after a Premiership return of four wins from six.

“The plan was always to keep our momentum going during the European window, and we managed to do that by beating the Dragons and having a really good win against a strong Bordeaux side over in France,” he said.

“We’ve just got to keep on taking little steps in the right direction, and that’s what’s going through our minds going into this weekend. We’ve got good strength in depth now, guys are really having to battle for every shirt and it’s a great position to be in.”

Hosting a Tigers side who were one-point winners on their last visit to the North East just under a year ago, Welch said: “Leicester are coming up here on the back of some good wins of their own and it’s going to be a tough encounter, but hopefully one that we can come out on top of.

“We have a lot of links to Leicester throughout our coaching and playing team so we know what they’re about, and they’re a quality outfit. They’re physical, they’re abrasive up front and they have a quality back line who can play the ball, so they have threats across the field. We’ve really got to make sure we’re on the money.

“While it’s important to understand what Leicester will bring to the table the main thing is making sure we impose our own game onto them. There’s only so much you can do in terms of worrying about another team, and it’s mainly about ensuring we get our own game right on the day. We’ve shown over the past few months that if we do what we talk about we’re a very good side. We’re more than a match for anyone, and that’s what we need to concentrate on.”

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

15 Alex Tait

14 Vereniki Goneva

13 Chris Harris

12 Juan Pablo Socino

11 Sinoti Sinoti

10 Toby Flood

9 Sonatane Takulua

1 Rob Vickers

2 Kyle Cooper

3 Jon Welsh

4 Calum Green

5 Sean Robinson

6 Mark Wilson

7 Will Welch (captain)

8 Nili Latu

Replacements

16 Scott Lawson

17 Sami Mavinga

18 Trevor Davison

19 Will Witty

20 Ally Hogg

21 Michael Young

22 Joel Hodgson

23 Maxime Mermoz

Leicester Tigers

15 Telusa Veainu

14 Nick Malouf

13 Matt Smith

12 Mathew Tait

11 Jonny May

10 George Ford

9 Ben Youngs

1 Ellis Genge

2 Tom Youngs (captain)

3 Dan Cole

4 Dom Barrow

5 Graham Kitchener

6 Valentino Mapapalangi

7 Brendon O’Connor

8 Sione Kalamafoni

Replacements

16 Harry Thacker

17 Greg Bateman

18 Pat Cilliers

19 Harry Wells

20 Luke Hamilton

21 Sam Harrison

22 Joe Ford

23 Adam Thompstone

Referee: Wayne Barnes

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