Team news: Williams back to face Exeter

Friday 22 February 2019

Johnny Williams returns for Newcastle Falcons on Saturday as they make the Gallagher Premiership trip to Exeter Chiefs.

The centre is back for the 2.30pm kick-off at Sandy Park after recovering from the knee injury which has kept him out for the past two months, Williams forming part of a side showing five changes from last weekend’s game at Bath.

George McGuigan is back at hooker, a re-jigged back row seeing John Hardie in at open-side flanker after being released by Scotland during the week.

Callum Chick slots in at No 8, the only other change seeing the inclusion of Tonga captain Sonatane Takulua at scrum-half for a Newcastle side going out in search of their first ever victory at Sandy Park.

Director of rugby Dean Richards believes brain as well as brawn will be required to prevail in Devon, saying: “It’s important to have that dog and intensity about our play, but also the nous and understanding.

“Last weekend at Bath we spent plenty of time with the ball in the opposition half, but we need to be more clinical in our execution of those situations. We have to learn from our mistakes, and there are points to be taken from every single game.

“That’s the beauty of the Gallagher Premiership and why it’s the most competitive club competition in the world, because there’s such a small gap between teams.”

Newcastle’s last outing at Sandy Park back in May saw them beaten in their first ever Premiership semi-final, Richards’ side currently engaged in a battle to pull themselves away from the foot of the table with nine rounds of regular-season combat remaining.

“We had the experience to prevail in a number of close finishes last year, and we have a younger squad this season who are learning how to do that,” said the Falcons boss.

“The ability is there, we will continue to get better and there is every confidence up here that it will fall into place. We’re all working incredibly hard to make that happen and to have the belief that we can start winning again, and what better place to do it than down at Exeter?”

Newcastle Falcons team to face Exeter Chiefs (Saturday, 2.30pm, Sandy Park)

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 David Wilson

4 Calum Green

5 Andrew Davidson

6 Will Welch (captain)

7 John Hardie

8 Callum Chick

Replacements

16 Santiago Socino

17 Logovi’i Mulipola

18 Jack Payne

19 Will Witty

20 Nemani Nagusa

21 Sam Stuart

22 Tim Swiel

23 Ben Stevenson

Referee: Luke Pearce.

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