Preview: Newcastle Falcons v Harlequins

Date published: January 29 2016

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Italy international winger Giamba Venditti returns to the Falcons starting 15 for Sunday’s Premiership clash against Harlequins at Kingston Park as the senior side go in search of a fourth consecutive home victory.

The Falcons have made just two changes from the team that began their last league game against London Irish, with the 33 times capped winger coming in for Marcus Watson on the left wing, in what will be his fifth start since joining the club.

The rest of the backline remains unchanged and features the same line up that took a bonus point victory against Brive.

Simon Hammersley, the scorer of the scintillating match winning try last Saturday, remains at full-back, the right wing benefits from Alex Tait’s wealth of experience gained from 108 Premiership matches while the balanced pairing of Juan Pablo Socino and Chris Harris continue in the centres.

Conducting play from the half-backs, the experienced head of Michael Young again lines up alongside the developing Craig Willis for the third consecutive home game.

Up front, there are similarly limited changes to the club’s last premiership outing with the fully fit Taione Vea switching his place on the bench with Paddy Ryan.

Alongside the Tongan international tighthead, the wisdom and gnarl of 242 Premiership appearances pack down, with Scottish international Scott Lawson at hooker and club stalwart Rob Vickers at loosehead prop.

After showing huge promise since its debut against Leicester Tigers on Boxing Day, the second row partnership again sees the ever dependable Mark Wilson line up alongside the clubs current top line out performer Sean Robinson.

Along the back row, Will Welch will again captain the side from the blindside flank, Nili Latu will again be a key factor on the openside flank while Ally Hogg will steer the pack from the base at number eight.

Meanwhile, Italian international scrum-half Tito Tebaldi makes his first Premiership start and partners captain Nick Evans in the half-backs. George Lowe joins Harry Sloan in the centres as the back three remains unchanged.

Among the forwards, Rob Buchanan is the only change to the front row, as James Horwill and Charlie Matthews complete the front five. Dave Ward starts in the back row alongside Luke Wallace and Mat Luamanu.

Among the replacements, first year Academy member Calum Waters will look to make his first senior appearance for the club.

Form: Newcastle Falcons have won their last three matches at Kingston Park in all tournaments since Saracens were the visitors in Premiership Rugby in early December. The Falcons solitary victory in Premiership Rugby this season was at home to Bath in Round 8. Harlequins seven game unbeaten run in all tournaments ended in Montpellier on Friday evening. Quins have lost just one of their last seven Premiership Rugby fixtures, by a single point at Exeter in Round 5. Newcastle beat Harlequins 37-21 at Kingston Park the last time the teams met and have not obtained back to back victories over the Londoners in Premiership Rugby since 2000.

The teams: 

Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Giamba Venditti, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Michael Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Nili Latu, 6 Will Welch, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Mark Wilson, 3 Taione Vea, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Eric Fry, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Richard Mayhew, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Andy Goode, 23 Adam Powell

Harlequins: 15 Ross Chisholm, 14 Marland Yarde, 13 George Lowe, 12 Harry Sloan, 11 Charlie Walker, 10 Nick Evans (c), 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Dave Ward, 6 Luke Wallace, 5 Charlie Matthews, 4 James Horwill, 3 Will Collier, 2 Rob Buchanan, 1 Mark Lambert
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 George Merrick, 20 James Chisholm, 21 Calum Waters, 22 Ben Botica, Tim Swiel 

Date: Sunday, January 31
Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Luke Pearce 
Assistant Referees: Darren Gamage, Paul Burton 
TMO: Trevor Fisher

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