Team news: Graham back to face Worcester

Friday 1 March 2019

Scotland’s Gary Graham returns for Newcastle Falcons as they host Worcester Warriors in Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership clash at Kingston Park Stadium (kick-off 3pm).

The back-rower won his second Scotland cap during last weekend’s Six Nations encounter with France, and returns to club duty as the Falcons aim to complete a home-and-away double over the Warriors.

Newcastle were 23-20 winners when the two teams last met at Sixways, Graham’s return coming as one of just two changes to the side which started last weekend’s trip to Exeter Chiefs.

Samoan international Logovi’i Mulipola returns at tight-head prop as the Falcons aim to inflict Worcester’s sixth successive away loss in Gallagher Premiership action, Zach Kibirige keeping his place on the wing after scoring two tries away to league leaders Exeter a week ago.

Director of rugby Dean Richards said: “The guys fronted up physically last weekend and we’re lacking nothing on that side of things, we scored three tries against a good Exeter side and we should have had a couple more.

“We had the opportunities but left them out there on the pitch despite putting together some good passages, but Exeter are top of the league for a reason.”

Injuries continue to deprive the Falcons of the services of players including Vereniki Goneva, Alex Tait, Joel Hodgson, Alex Dunbar, Michael Young, Jon Welsh, Glen Young, Rodney Ah You, Tom Penny and Sean Robinson to name a few, Richards highlighting the importance of the mental battle for those who do take the field on Sunday.

“A key part of our approach to this game is to keep a lid on all the stuff going on around it, and just focus on the processes needed to put in a good performance,” said the Falcons boss.

“The side who can maintain their focus and control is the one that will win the game in all probability, because overall we’re two fairly evenly-matched teams.

“They’ve got dangerous wingers, an excellent scrum-half and some good props, just to pick out a few positions, and in many ways they’ve got strengths in similar areas to ourselves. It’ll come down to who can control themselves better on the day and who can execute their game plan.”

Worcester built a nine-point buffer between themselves and Newcastle thanks to a last-minute winner against Leicester last Sunday, Richards saying: “That’s just the way it goes sometimes, and it’s what makes the Gallagher Premiership the best club competition in the world.

“On their day any side can beat any other, and it wasn’t any surprise to us that Worcester were able to take the points late on against Leicester.

“Worcester are a side that we need to beat because of where we are in the league in relation to each other, and if we do then it opens it all up again. If we lose it becomes more difficult but there are still seven games left after this weekend, and Worcester and Bristol have to play each other.

“We have to start winning and keep the momentum going. When you look at the fixtures we’ve got between now and the end of the season there’s no reason why we shouldn’t stay up. We just need to start winning, and Sunday should be the start of it.”

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

Newcastle Falcons team to face Worcester Warriors (Sunday, 3pm, Kingston Park Stadium)

15 Simon Hammersley

14 Zach Kibirige

13 Chris Harris

12 Johnny Williams

11 Sinoti Sinoti

10 Toby Flood

9 Sonatane Takulua

1 Sam Lockwood

2 George McGuigan

3 Logovi'i Mulipola

4 Calum Green

5 Andrew Davidson

6 Will Welch (captain)

7 Gary Graham

8 Callum Chick

Replacements

16 Kyle Cooper

17 Adam Brocklebank

18 David Wilson

19 Will Witty

20 Nemani Nagusa

21 Sam Stuart

22 Brett Connon

23 Josh Matavesi

Worcester Warriors

15 Chris Pennell

14 Bryce Heem

13 Francois Venter

12 Ryan Mills (captain)

11 Tom Howe

10 Duncan Weir

9 Francois Hougaard

1 Ethan Waller

2 Jack Singleton

3 Nick Schonert

4 Anton Bresler

5 Michael Fatialofa

6 Ted Hill

7 Sam Lewis

8 Marco Mama

Replacements

16 Isaac Miller

17 Callum Black

18 Gareth Milasinovich

19 Pierce Phillips

20 Matt Cox

21 Michael Heaney

22 Jono Lance

23 Ollie Lawrence

Referee: Wayne Barnes

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