Team news: Nine changes for Nottingham trip

Thursday 23 January 2020

Newcastle Falcons have made nine changes for Friday’s Greene King IPA Championship trip to Nottingham, with captain George McGuigan among the returning players.

He forms part of a side aiming to extend their nine-point lead at the top of the table, the Falcons having won all 15 games this season.

Tom Arscott, Johnny Williams, Sonatane Takulua, Logovi’i Mulipola, Greg Peterson and Gary Graham are the six players to keep their places from Sunday’s 36-10 away win over Yorkshire Carnegie, director of rugby Dean Richards having to manage his playing resources in a five-day turnaround.

“It’s a short turnaround between matches, but we’ll not change much from last week to this week in terms of our preparation,” said Richards.

“We’ll not have much time on the training field, but that’s just life. It’s not like soccer where you can go Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday. There are physical demands around rugby which limit what you can do, but a five-day turnaround is just one of things you have to accept a couple of times a season.

“The fact they’re both away games adds to that a little bit and you sort of wonder whether someone has done that deliberately, but we’ll just get on with it.”

Up against a Nottingham side who are placed third-bottom of the table with three wins from their nine league games, Richards offered short shrift to any suggestion that Friday’s outcome is a given.

“I don’t see it that way at all – I think it’ll be really difficult down there,” he said.

“The floodlights aren’t great, the pitch isn’t great and it’s a real leveller in that sense, so we’ll need to be on top of our game to get the win. It won’t be an easy game at all, and anybody who thinks it is has another thing coming.

“Nottingham will have a go. They’re quite physical, they’ll play to the conditions and they’ll try to control the territory and contact area. That’s the way they think they can beat us, and we’ll have to be on our mettle.”

Hoping for a better first half than the one his side produced at Headingley last weekend, Richards added: “We didn’t play particularly well, our accuracy wasn’t quite there and as a consequence we turned over 11 balls during the opening 40.

“We made mistakes that we wouldn’t ordinarily make, and pretty much every team Yorkshire Carnegie had played this season had put four tries on them by half-time. We were a bit too lackadaisical about things and only had ourselves to blame but we tidied things up at half-time and ran away with it from there, which is what we should have done in the first half.”

Asked if his side’s conditioning was a factor in how they have been able to pull away late on into games, Richards said: “It’s a little bit about fitness levels, but the way we play and the incessant nature of it means that ultimately we’re wearing teams down.

“We’d like to score more tries earlier on - of course we would - but it’s not always the case against sides who know their best chance of beating us is by hitting us early on.

“Thankfully we’ve been coming in up at half-time, in some cases not by much at all, and then running away with a bit from there. That hasn’t always been the case, and I wouldn’t expect it to be that way on Friday because Nottingham is a hard place to go and play.”

Newcastle Falcons team to face Nottingham (Friday, 7.45pm, Lady Bay Sportsground)

15 Tom Arscott

14 Adam Radwan

13 George Wacokecoke

12 Johnny Williams

11 Sinoti Sinoti

10 Toby Flood

9 Sonatane Takulua

1 Trevor Davison

2 George McGuigan (captain)

3 Logovi'i Mulipola

4 Greg Peterson

5 Sean Robinson

6 Will Welch

7 John Hardie

8 Gary Graham

Replacements

16 Jamie Blamire

17 Sam Lockwood

18 Mike Daniels

19 Sebastian de Chaves

20 Nemani Nagusa

21 Michael Young

22 Joel Hodgson

23 Dominic Waldouck

Nottingham

15 Sean Scanlon

14 David Williams

13 Harry Strong

12 Will Simonds

11 Jack Spittle

10 Will Millett

9 Murray McConnell (captain)

1 Aniseko Sio

2 Luke Cole

3 Oisin Heffernan

4 Llewelyn Jones

5 Danny Qualter

6 Seb Cecil

7 George Cox

8 Josh Poullet

Replacements

16 Jake Farnworth

17 Tom Hill

18 Karl Garside

19 Ollie Chessum

20 Jordan Coughlan

21 Alex Dolly

22 Tom Benjamin

23 Ben Foley

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth

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