Falcons players celebrate last weekend's victory in Toulon

Team news: Three changes for Montpellier game

Friday 19 October 2018

Newcastle Falcons have named their side for Sunday’s battle of the two unbeaten teams in Heineken Champions Cup Pool 5, when Montpellier visit Kingston Park Stadium.

Director of rugby Dean Richards has made three changes to the side which won away at Toulon last weekend, Premiership Player of the Season Vereniki Goneva returning on the right wing after missing the opening round with a head knock.

Fellow Fijian Nemani Nagusa misses out after injuring his calf last weekend, Ryan Burrows taking his place, the only other addition to the side being the return of Calum Green to the second row in place of Will Witty.

“Montpellier have consistently been one of the best sides in France for the past few years now,” said Richards, Sunday’s opponents currently sat fourth in the French Top 14 after reaching last season’s final.

“In that respect it’s going to be a huge test but it’s Kingston Park, it’s our ground and our crowd, and you just never know what can happen up here.

“Montpellier are stuffed full of international stars from all over the world, so this old thing about the French not travelling well just doesn’t apply. They’ve done it on a regular basis, we’re certainly not being sucked into any complacency on that front but they’ll have to be a good side to come to Kingston Park and beat us.

“We have our own game plan, our own style and shape, and it’s all about imposing that onto the opposition rather than overly worrying about what they’re going to do. Obviously we’ve done our analysis on Montpellier and we know what they’re about, but it’s about executing our own stuff on the day and nailing those opportunities when they come.”

Adamant that his team have quickly switched focus following last Sunday’s heroics in Toulon, Richards said: “Last weekend was great, more so for the players and supporters than anything else.

“We were massive underdogs - somebody told me afterwards we were more than 7/1 for the win on the day apparently - so to win in the manner we did speaks volumes for the lads and the attitude they took into the game.

“Our team has changed over the last few years, we’ve got a lot more resolve and we always knew we’d be able to hit back even if Toulon came out strong. We knew we had to be in with a shout at half-time, we managed to put ourselves into that position and from there we always had a chance.”

Able to recalibrate for Montpellier, the Falcons boss added: “The players have been pretty good this week, to be honest with you. We had a big travel day on Monday, they rested on Tuesday and we were back into it on Wednesday.

“Everyone has that positive nervous energy about them because they know we don’t have that element of surprise on Sunday, and Montpellier will be well aware of what we can do. It’s about executing things even better than we did last weekend, and the focus on that has been good in training.”

Tickets for Sunday’s game are available by clicking here.

Newcastle Falcons team to face Montpellier (Sunday, 1pm, Kingston Park Stadium)

15 Alex Tait

14 Vereniki Goneva

13 Tom Penny

12 Johnny Williams

11 Sinoti Sinoti

10 Joel Hodgson

9 Michael Young

1 Sami Mavinga

2 Kyle Cooper

3 David Wilson

4 Calum Green

5 Glen Young

6 Mark Wilson (captain)

7 Gary Graham

8 Ryan Burrows

Replacements

16 George McGuigan

17 Adam Brocklebank

18 Logovi'i Mulipola

19 Will Witty

20 Callum Chick

21 Sonatane Takulua

22 Brett Connon

23 Chris Harris

Montpellier

15 Benjamin Fall

14 Vincent Martin

13 Yvan Reilhac

12 Jan Serfontein

11 Gabriel N'gandebe

10 Aaron Cruden

9 Ruan Pienaar

1 Mikheil Nariashvili

2 Vincent Giudicelli

3 Levan Chilachava

4 Nico Janse van Rensburg

5 Paul Willemse

6 Fulgence Ouedraogo

7 Wiaan Liebenberg

8 Louis Picamoles (captain)

Replacements

16 Romain Ruffenach

17 Grégory Fichten

18 Antoine Guillamon

19 Julien Le Devedec

20 Kelian Galletier

21 Enzo Sanga

22 Thomas Darmon

23 Arthur Vincent

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)

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