Team news: Welch back for cup semi

Friday 8 February 2019

Captain Will Welch returns for Newcastle Falcons as they travel to Northampton Saints in Saturday’s Premiership Rugby Cup semi-final.

The skipper packs down on the blind-side flank in a side showing seven changes from the one which won 28-12 at Sale Sharks last weekend, Newcastle progressing as pool winners following an unbeaten four rounds of group action.

Fijian international Nemani Nagusa joins Welch in the back row, the Falcons looking for a fourth successive victory at Franklin’s Gardens after winning on their last three visits, the most recent of which was the Gallagher Premiership encounter on December 1.

Calum Green joins the second row, David Wilson starting at tight-head prop in a team which sees Brett Connon paired with Sonatane Takulua in the half-backs. Vereniki Goneva starts on the wing after scoring in his first involvement from the bench last weekend, Zach Kibirige continuing on the other wing as he aims to add to a personal tally of four tries in two Premiership Rugby Cup games this season.

“Our record down in Northampton over the last few years hasn’t been too bad,” said director of rugby Dean Richards, whose side spent the first three days of this week on a training camp in the Cumbrian town of Kendal.

“We’ll go down there with no fear, although at the same time respecting what Northampton are about and the quality they have within their squad. They’ve got a new head coach this season who offers something slightly different, they have threats across the board and it will be a difficult game.

“It was a good game last weekend over at Sale Sharks, the boys turned up and it wasn’t a bad Sale team when you look at the side they had out. It wasn’t far off being their first-choice pack, obviously they had a number of backs away, and it was a good match-up. I thought we fronted up across the board and dealt with them pretty well.”

Keen to progress through to the Premiership Rugby Cup’s showpiece match after falling at the semi-final stage last time round, Richards added: “We had three semi-finals last season in various tournaments but we want to go one further and make it to a final, and it would be nice to be able to do that.

“The clubs seem to have bought into the Premiership Rugby Cup as a competition, and as a consequence you’re getting worthwhile games.”

Newcastle Falcons team to face Northampton Saints (Saturday, 12.15pm, Franklin's Gardens, live on BT Sport)

15 Tom Arscott

14 Zach Kibirige

13 Alex Dunbar

12 Josh Matavesi

11 Vereniki Goneva

10 Brett Connon

9 Sonatane Takulua

1 Trevor Davison

2 Santiago Socino

3 David Wilson

4 Calum Green

5 Andrew Davidson

6 Will Welch (captain)

7 Callum Chick

8 Nemani Nagusa


16 Kyle Cooper

17 Adam Brocklebank

18 Logovi'i Mulipola

19 Tevita Cavubati

20 Simon Uzokwe

21 Sam Stuart

22 Chris Harris

23 Sinoti Sinoti

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys

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