Team news: Falcons side to host Coventry on Sunday

Friday 15 November 2019

Logovi’i Mulipola makes his first league appearance of the season on Sunday when his table-topping Newcastle Falcons team host third-placed Coventry in the Greene King IPA Championship.

The 3pm Kingston Park kick-off sees the Falcons going for their ninth win in a row, Mulipola packing down at loose-head prop having returned from Rugby World Cup duty with Samoa.

He forms part of a side showing seven changes from the one which won 11-6 at Bedford last weekend, Mark Tampin starting at tight-head.

Sebastian de Chaves replaces the injured Sean Robinson at lock, Gary Graham comes in for Nemani Nagusa after picking up a broken finger last time out and Will Welch starts on the blind-side flank. Joel Hodgson pulls the creative strings from fly-half, while Josh Matavesi comes back into the centres.

Summer signing Gareth Owen could be in line for a debut from the bench with the former Leicester man having missed the start of the season due to injury, director of rugby Dean Richards also able to call upon Sonatane Takulua after the Tongan scrum-half’s return from Rugby World Cup action.

Richards said: “The great thing with the World Cup boys is that there’s no rush to throw them all straight in, such is the depth that we have.

“Josh Matavesi and Greg Peterson have both played for us already, we’ll mix in a couple more guys on Sunday but there’s no urgent need to start them all at the same time. It’s great because it adds to the competition for places, and that’s ultimately what drives up your standards.

“This season also affords us the opportunity to blood some of our younger players, but we’ll do that in a selective way whereby they’re alongside experienced guys rather than being dropped in wholesale as a group. As well as developing these talented younger players we’ve also got to balance the simple fact that we need to be winning every game, and that’s the judgment that we’ve got to make when we pick the team.”

Facing up against one of the clubs that he used to watch as a child, Richards said: “I’m a Nuneaton lad so I was never affiliated to Coventry rugby club in any formal sense, but I’m a Coventry City football fan and am obviously aware of the great tradition around the rugby club there.

“I used to get down to Coundon Road and watch them quite a bit when I was younger, but it’s not a club I was ever personally involved with.

“They’ve since got a new ground and then this season added a new 3G pitch, similar to the one we have here. It means we’ll get a quality playing surface on Sunday despite all the rain we’ve had over the past few weeks, although the fact that Coventry have one as well probably negates any additional advantage.”

Keen to kick on from last weekend’s hard-fought 11-6 victory at Bedford, the Falcons boss said: “I’ve been in this division on two previous occasions and I know that clubs will make it as difficult for us as possible.

“It’s great to come away with a win from a difficult game like Bedford last Saturday, with the slope and the weather, and you have to work for it. We know these games are never a formality, everyone is capable of beating us if we step off the gas and the Championship has improved a lot.

“We’re being asked some different questions this season, and I think that’s great.

“People often say the Championship is a forward-oriented league, which I guess it is, but aside from that there’s a lot of good open play from teams.

“There are some great young coaches, like Harvey Biljon at Jersey to name just one, who are using it as a bit of a proving ground, and they’re quite imaginative in some of the stuff they come up with.

“Teams are playing good rugby at this level, and they take some beating.”

Tickets for Sunday’s 3pm kick-off are available by clicking here, calling 0871 226 6060 or from Kingston Park Stadium in person.

Newcastle Falcons team to face Coventry Rugby (Sunday, 3pm, Kingston Park Stadium)

15 Tom Arscott

14 Adam Radwan

13 George Wacokecoke

12 Josh Matavesi

11 Sinoti Sinoti

10 Joel Hodgson

9 Michael Young (co-captain)

1 Logovi’i Mulipola

2 George Mcguigan (co-captain)

3 Mark Tampin

4 Sebastian de Chaves

5 Darren Barry

6 Will Welch

7 John Hardie

8 Gary Graham

Replacements

16 Jamie Blamire

17 Trevor Davison

18 Rodney Ah You

19 Greg Peterson

20 Callum Chick

21 Sonatane Takulua

22 Tim Swiel

23 Gareth Owen

Coventry Rugby

15 James Stokes

14 David Halaifonua

13 Heath Stevens

12 Rory Jennings

11 Max Trimble

10 Will Maisey

9 Tom Kessell

1 James Gibbons

2 Joe Buckle

3 Gareth Denman

4 Nile Dacres

5 James Voss

6 Senitiki Nayalo

7 Adam Peters

8 Ryan Burrows (captain)

Replacements

16 Henry Walker

17 Toby Trinder

18 Phil Boulton

19 Alex Woolford

20 Ben Nutley

21 Pete White

22 Tony Fenner

23 Rob Knox

Referee: Fergus Kirby

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