Team news: Witty returns against Harlequins

Friday 4 January 2019

Newcastle Falcons welcome back fit-again lock-forward Will Witty as they prepare for Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership visit of Harlequins.

The 3pm kick-off at Kingston Park Stadium sees the Yorkshireman playing his first game since the Heineken Champions Cup victory over Montpellier on October 21, Newcastle looking to start the calendar year on a high after taking losing bonus points from their last two outings.

A head knock for Toby Flood sees Brett Connon starting at fly-half, the 22-year-old having impressed in his recent Heineken Champions Cup start away to Edinburgh, while a head knock also rules out flanker John Hardie.

Trevor Davison and Kyle Cooper both come into the front row after featuring from the bench last weekend, Tom Arscott starting on the wing in the only other change to the side which took a losing bonus point on Sunday at Bristol.

“As I said immediately after the game we missed a lot of chances, and going back through the footage has only reinforced that impression,” said director of rugby Dean Richards.

“I’d be more upset if we weren’t creating the opportunities to begin with, but we are, and it’s a case of taking the chances that are out there for us. It will slot into place, and we do feel as if results are there for us if we can just take that next step.”

Keen to put right the defeat that an injury-ravaged Falcons suffered at Quins back in November, Richards added: “Our away game at Harlequins was an incredibly frustrating night whereby one disaster led to another, what with Johnny Williams going down injured in the warm-up, having to reshuffle the back line at short notice and then losing Joel Hodgson to a broken leg in the first few minutes.

“Saturday is a totally different thing, our game down there has been put to bed and we’ll run out this weekend in a different frame of mind.”

Acknowledging the threat posed by a Harlequins side coached by one of his former Leicester charges, Paul Gustard, Richards said: “Quins are starting to play some decent rugby and from our own side we’re creating a lot of opportunities, so if we carry on doing that it should be a great game to watch.

“Discipline is key, and we’re not going to throw stones about it because we’ve been guilty ourselves at times. We’ve improved massively in that area since the first six games of the season but you have to stay constantly on top of it, and we’ll be doing so again on Saturday.

“It would be fantastic to start the new year with a win, we don’t feel like we’re far away from doing so and if we get everything right on the day then we’ll come away with the result.”

Tickets for Saturday’s game are available by clicking here.

Newcastle Falcons team to face Harlequins (Saturday, 3pm, Kingston Park Stadium)

15 Simon Hammersley

14 Vereniki Goneva

13 Chris Harris

12 Josh Matavesi

11 Tom Arscott

10 Brett Connon

9 Michael Young

1 Trevor Davison

2 Kyle Cooper

3 Logovi'i Mulipola

4 Calum Green

5 Will Witty

6 Will Welch (captain)

7 Gary Graham

8 Callum Chick


16 Santiago Socino

17 Adam Brocklebank

18 David Wilson

19 Andrew Davidson

20 Ryan Burrows

21 Sonatane Takulua

22 Tim Swiel

23 Pedro Bettencourt


15 Mike Brown

14 Nathan Earle

13 Joe Marchant

12 Francis Saili

11 Gabriel Ibitoye

10 Marcus Smith

9 Danny Care (captain)

1 Joe Marler

2 Max Crumpton

3 Kyle Sinckler

4 Matt Symons

5 Ben Glynn

6 Semi Kunatani

7 Jack Clifford

8 Alex Dombrandt


16 Elia Elia

17 Nick Auterac

18 Will Collier

19 George Merrick

20 Renaldo Bothma

21 Charlie Mulchrone

22 James Lang

23 Aaron Morris

Referee: Tom Foley

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