Philip van der Walt

Team news: Falcons prepare for Gloucester trip

Friday 22 October 2021

Philip van der Walt is among Newcastle Falcons' returning players as they make three changes for Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership trip to Gloucester.

The South African comes into the second row for a Newcastle side which also sees the addition of centre Pete Lucock and winger Nathan Earle - the latter replacing England wing Adam Radwan, who misses out with a minor knee problem.

Fit-again fly-half Joel Hodgson, meanwhile, is in line for a first appearance of the season, having been named on a bench which also includes former England Under-20s back-rower Josh Basham.

Looking to kick on from last weekend’s 13-5 home win over Bristol Bears, director of rugby Dean Richards said: “We were disappointed to only come away with a single try, considering the amount of territory and possession we had.

“It wasn’t the game we wanted and expected, and Bristol’s scramble defence worked well for them. Had we been a little bit more accurate we probably would have scored a couple more tries, but we’ll take the win and look to improve this weekend at Gloucester.

“The teams at the top of the league are the teams who execute their game plan with accuracy time and time again, but we’re getting there gradually, and I don’t think we’re in too bad a shape considering the number of injuries we have.”

Up against a Cherry and Whites side who drew last time out at London Irish, Richards said: “Gloucester are going well at the moment.

“They’ve got a far more balanced pack than they’ve had for a while, and their back-line functions well. Ben Meehan is a good addition, Adam Hastings goes well at fly-half and in Santi Socino and Andrew Davidson they’ve got two forwards who we know very well from their time at Newcastle.”

In the week that Callum Chick, Jamie Blamire, Trevor Davison and Adam Radwan were all named in England’s Elite Player Squad, Richards said: “We’re delighted to have four boys included – especially four guys who represent all corners of our patch.

“You’ve got Jamie Blamire over in Cumbria, Callum Chick from Ponteland, Adam Radwan from the Teesside and North Yorkshire area and then Trevor Davison from the city of Newcastle itself.

“I just think it’s brilliant, and really gives a good representation of guys from our area who have all got very different backgrounds and stories. They’re all good boys, it speaks volumes for our academy and also for the players themselves.

“People might say on the one hand we’ll lose them for some club games, but I always look at these things as an opportunity for other guys to come in and show us what they can do, as well as first and foremost being delighted for our guys getting to represent their country.

“For a number of years Mark Wilson was pretty much the only Newcastle player who got any credit at England level, so it’s great that we’re getting much more of a presence there. I’m sure our guys will benefit from the experience of being that environment, and then come back to us as better players.”

Newcastle Falcons team to face Gloucester (Saturday, 3pm, Kingsholm)

15 Mike Brown, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Louis Schreuder; 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Philip van der Walt, 6 Callum Chick, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Carl Fearns.

Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 George Merrick, 20 Josh Basham, 21 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 George Wacokecoke.

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