Team news: Matavesi returns on Sunday

Friday 21 December 2018

Josh Matavesi returns from a three-and-a-half-month injury lay-off as Newcastle Falcons host Gloucester in Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership clash at Kingston Park Stadium.

The Fijian international was a mainstay of the side which reached three semi-finals last season but suffered an ankle injury in the second game of the current campaign, Matavesi replacing the injured Johnny Williams in a team showing five changes from the one which hosted Edinburgh last weekend.

Alex Tait replaces the injured Sinoti Sinoti on the left wing, Samoan international Logovi’i Mulipola returning to fitness to start at tight-head prop. Calum Green is back having been a late withdrawal last weekend, Gary Graham coming into a rejigged back row with the injured Nemani Nagusa missing out.

On the bench there is a return for fit-again prop David Wilson and scrum-half Michael Young, head coach Dave Walder and his side keen to register a third successive Gallagher Premiership victory after beating Bath and Northampton in their last two league outings.

Walder said: “This is a potentially pivotal part of the season for us as we move into this three-game Gallagher Premiership block.

“We took two wins from our last three-game block in the league, and it’s an exciting time of the year with a big and noisy crowd expected here on Sunday. There’ll be a good turn-out and the atmosphere will be buzzing, we just need to make sure we turn up and play well on the day.”

Keen to learn the lessons from their recent Heineken Champions Cup losses to Edinburgh having built a half-time lead in both games, the former England fly-half said: “We created a lot of opportunities against Edinburgh but just didn’t take them, and that’s what disappointed us the most.

“Last weekend we gave away three penalties in attack for holding on, which again is disappointing, especially when we’d highlighted pre-match that the referee was really hot on that. When you combine that with the three or four penalties we conceded around half-way, seven turnovers and things like that, you’re going to end up defending inside your own half for most of the game.

“Some of the stuff we played in our own half at times was great, but when you’re playing 60 metres away from the opposition’s try-line you’re not really threatening them as much as you’d like to be. We’ve had a bit of a talk about how we can eliminate that on Sunday, and it’s all about getting us onto the front foot.”

Newcastle won their last Premiership outing against Gloucester when the two teams met at Kingsholm back in March, with Walder expecting an open game from the Cherry and Whites on Sunday.

“Gloucester have brought in a new coaching structure within the past couple of years who are very keen to let their guys have a crack from anywhere,” said the head coach.

“That’s their philosophy, and they’ve had varying degrees of success with it. Some weeks they’ve been absolutely outstanding and others they’ve caused themselves a lot of trouble, but it’s good to see that they’ve maintained their philosophy throughout.

“It’s an exciting brand of rugby and they’ll come here with the confidence that they can turn us over, but I’m pretty confident we’ll see a backlash from last Sunday and that we’ll get the win we want.”

Tickets for Sunday’s game are available by clicking here or calling 0871 226 6060.

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

15 Simon Hammersley

14 Vereniki Goneva

13 Chris Harris

12 Josh Matavesi

11 Alex Tait

10 Toby Flood (captain)

9 Sonatane Takulua

1 Sam Lockwood

2 Kyle Cooper

3 Logovi'i Mulipola

4 Calum Green

5 Tevita Cavubati

6 Gary Graham

7 John Hardie

8 Mark Wilson

Replacements

16 George McGuigan

17 Trevor Davison

18 David Wilson

19 Andrew Davidson

20 Ryan Burrows

21 Michael Young

22 Brett Connon

23 Tom Arscott

Gloucester Rugby

15 Jason Woodward

14 Charlie Sharples

13 Billy Twelvetrees

12 Tom Hudson

11 Ollie Thorley

10 Owen Williams

9 Callum Braley

1 Josh Hohneck

2 Jaco Visagie

3 Ciaran Knight

4 Ed Slater (captain)

5 Franco Mostert

6 Freddie Clarke

7 Lewis Ludlow

8 Ben Morgan

Replacements

16 Henry Walker

17 Paddy McAllister

18 Fraser Balmain

19 Tom Savage

20 Gareth Evans

21 Willi Heinz

22 Henry Trinder

23 Jaco Kriel

Referee: Karl Dickson

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