Team news: Wilson back to face Edinburgh

Friday 14 December 2018

England flanker Mark Wilson is among the returning stars for Newcastle Falcons as they prepare to host Edinburgh in Sunday’s Heineken Champions Cup clash at Kingston Park Stadium (kick-off 3.15pm).

Wilson comes into a side showing 11 changes from last weekend’s meeting between the two sides, wingers Vereniki Goneva and Sinoti also returning in a team captained by fly-half Toby Flood.

Johnny Williams comes into the centres behind a pack which sees Kyle Cooper and Trevor Davison added to the front row, Calum Green coming in at lock in front of a freshened-up back row which sees the return of Wilson, Nemani Nagusa and Edinburgh old boy John Hardie.

Bolstered by the availability of two fit tight-heads following last week’s shortage, director of rugby Dean Richards said: “We’ve come through last weekend’s game, we didn’t get the result we wanted and the scrum played a large part in that, but that’s life and you move on from it.

“Hopefully there’ll be a review of how that kind of situation is dealt with but that would have to be at the end of the season now, because if they’re not going to change it for us then they can’t really do it for anyone else. We’ve had a lot of serious injuries in key positions but I’m not going to complain because all teams suffer injuries, and I think the guys who have come in have actually done very well.

“We knew last week was going to be hard because we had so many boys carrying bumps and bruises which meant we couldn’t field them, but Sunday is slightly different because they’ve been given that recovery time they needed and it’s a slightly different team.

“That’s not taking anything away from the boys who played last week, because I thought a lot of them played well. The loss of power in the scrum was obviously a factor but we’re not in the business of making excuses - we’ve just got to turn it up a bit this week and get a positive outcome.”

A two-time Heineken Champions Cup winner during his time in charge of Leicester, Richards is determined for the Falcons to make the most of their first foray into the competition for 14 seasons with the final being held at Newcastle’s St James’ Park.

“The Champions Cup is exciting. It’s different, you’re playing sides from different leagues with different outlooks and experiencing something new,” he said.

“The boys love it, and to go over into a rugby-mad atmosphere like Toulon in round one was something that really got them pumped-up. To then win at home against a Montpellier side who have been right near the top of the French game for a number of years, that was pretty special, and the team are lapping it up.”

Identifying the areas for improvement from last weekend, Richards added: “First of all we need to be a bit more accurate in certain areas of our game, which we’re looking at, and we only played about half of our play sheet last week. That means we still have a fair bit in reserve which Edinburgh won’t have seen, but it’s all about getting that win and being really ruthless in terms of how we execute our game plan.

“If it means a dogged approach on the day then so be it, but it’ll definitely be a good atmosphere at Kingston Park and we’re looking forward to our crowd getting right behind us like they always do.

“We’ve won six out of our last nine and there’s a draw in there as well, so we’ve been going alright when you look at the wider picture. We knew the first six weeks of the season were always going to be a challenge but we’ve started to play well, and we’ve got a lot of depth.

“The boys who took the field last weekend were undone a bit by the fact our scrum was under so much pressure for reasons I’ve already gone into, and you’ve got to take your hat off to Sam Lockwood and Sami Mavinga for dogging it out on that right-hand side for us. They didn’t have to, they put their hands up and said they’d give it a go, and it was a tough day at the office for them.

“Credit to Edinburgh because they knew how to exploit it, but Sunday will be a different thing altogether.”

Tickets for Sunday’s game are available by clicking here, calling 0871 226 6060 or from Kingston Park Stadium in person.

Newcastle Falcons team to face Edinburgh (Sunday, 3.15pm, Kingston Park Stadium, live on BT Sport)

15 Simon Hammersley

14 Vereniki Goneva

13 Chris Harris

12 Johnny Williams

11 Sinoti Sinoti

10 Toby Flood (captain)

9 Sonatane Takulua

1 Sam Lockwood

2 Kyle Cooper

3 Trevor Davison

4 Calum Green

5 Tevita Cavubati

6 Mark Wilson

7 John Hardie

8 Nemani Nagusa

Replacements

16 George McGuigan

17 Sami Mavinga

18 Jack Payne

19 Glen Young

20 Gary Graham

21 Sam Stuart

22 Brett Connon

23 Tom Arscott

Edinburgh

15 Blair Kinghorn

14 Darcy Graham

13 James Johnstone

12 Chris Dean

11 Duhan van der Merwe

10 Jaco van der Walt

9 Henry Pyrgos

1 Allan Dell

2 Stuart McInally (captain)

3 WP Nel

4 Ben Toolis

5 Grant Gilchrist

6 Luke Hamilton

7 Hamish Watson

8 Viliame Mata

Replacements

16 Dave Cherry

17 Pierre Schoeman

18 Simon Berghan

19 Callum Hunter-Hill

20 Luke Crosbie

21 Nathan Fowles

22 Simon Hickey

23 Juan Pablo Socino

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)

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