Team news: Falcons side to face Montpellier

Friday 11 January 2019

Newcastle Falcons have made six changes to their side for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup trip to French club Montpellier.

Toby Flood returns to captain the team after missing last weekend’s game against Harlequins due to a head knock, and will be partnered in the half-backs by Tonga captain Sonatane Takulua.

Adam Brocklebank comes in at loose-head prop as Trevor Davison shifts over to the tight-head side in place of the injured Logovi’i Mulipola, Glen Young coming in at lock in front of a back row which sees the return of John Hardie from a head knock and the addition of Ryan Burrows.

Newcastle won a dramatic home tie with Montpellier back in October with a 38-phase attack eight minutes into added time, director of rugby Dean Richards keen to record a second pool victory on French soil after winning in Toulon on the opening weekend.

“Montpellier are a little bit more consistent in their performances than Toulon, and there’s no way they will take us lightly,” he said.

“It’s not in their nature because they have a Kiwi coach who will look at it in a very different way, although having said that I’m sure Montpellier would admit their form this season hasn’t been as consistent as it has been over the previous couple.

“They’ve spent a huge amount of money on their squad and they have a team of superstars, but we’re not particularly bothered about that. We’ve come up against teams like that before and beaten them, and we’re just going over with the mind-set of giving it our best and going all-out for the win.”

Keen to regain winning ways following last weekend’s home loss to Harlequins, the Falcons boss added: “The most disappointing thing was that two of their three early tries came when we were pushing in their 22 to score ourselves, but one interception and one dropped ball gave them an opening to go the length and score. Their other early try was through our own defensive error against a move we’d been training all week to defend, and those three tries absolutely killed us.

“We looked at the game afterwards and we had enough opportunities, but this weekend is a new challenge and something we’re looking forward to.

“It’ll be a volatile atmosphere over there, it’s a different rugby culture and I know the boys will enjoy going over there and playing in that environment.”

Newcastle Falcons team to face Montpellier (Saturday, 1pm UK time, GGL Stadium)

15 Simon Hammersley

14 Vereniki Goneva

13 Chris Harris

12 Josh Matavesi

11 Tom Arscott

10 Toby Flood (captain)

9 Sonatane Takulua

1 Adam Brocklebank

2 Kyle Cooper

3 Trevor Davison

4 Will Witty

5 Glen Young

6 Gary Graham

7 John Hardie

8 Ryan Burrows

Replacements

16 Santiago Socino

17 Sami Mavinga

18 Jack Payne

19 Calum Green

20 Callum Chick

21 Michael Young

22 Brett Connon

23 Zach Kibirige

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)

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