Preview: Newcastle v Exeter

Date published: October 30 2015

Newcastle Falcons have named a refreshed starting line-up ahead of Sunday’s Premiership match against Exeter Chiefs, with a number of personnel and positional switches from the team that faced Northampton.

Alex Tait headlines the new faces as he makes his first start of the season on the right wing, filling the gap created by Giamba Venditti's switch to the left in place of Alesana Tuilagi.

Fresh from scoring his first Premiership try, Tom Penny makes his first start in the competition, replacing Chris Harris in the 13 shirt, who misses out while awaiting the results of a scan after picking up a knock last week. 

Another player returning from injury is Michael Young at scrum-half, who made an impressive cameo against Gloucester in the season opener before being forced from the field and who will look to ignite the Falcons backline with half-back partner Mike Delany.

Simon Hammersley remains in the full-back position and Adam Powell continues at inside centre.

22-year-old Hammersley in particular has enjoyed a strong start to his second season, beating 11 defenders across his two games to date and making four clean breaks, with only Sale’s Tom Arscott bettering that effort.

In the forwards, USA Eagle Eric Fry replaces Rob Vickers at loosehead prop and packs down with a pair of Scottish internationals in the shape of newly re-signed Scott Lawson and Rugby World Cup star Jon Welsh.

A powerful second-row of Mouritz Botha and Calum Green will be out to provide plenty of go forward alongside a physical presence at the line-out while in the back-row, captain Will Welch returns on the blindside flank, with Nili Latu and Ally Hogg remaining at openside and number eight respectively.

On the bench, there is a prospective first start for 11 times capped Puma Belisario Agulla, who joins Ruki Tipuna and Tom Catterick as the back line replacements.

George McGuigan, Vickers and Taione Vea provide the front-row cover, while Josh Furno and Todd Clever provide the second and back row options.

Meanwhile, Exeter head coach Rob Baxter tinkers somewhat with his starting XV from seven days ago. 

In the backs, Matt Jess will run out for his 100th Premiership appearance for the club, replacing two-try hero Jack Nowell, who misses out because of the artificial surface at Kingston Park.

Also back in the centre is Sam Hill, who takes over from Ian Whitten, while up front new signing Julian Salvi gets his first start for the Chiefs, coming into a re-jigged back-row that sees Don Armand moves to number eight and Thomas Waldrom drop to the bench.

Ollie Atkins is also recalled amongst the replacements for the injured Geoff Parling.

Form: Newcastle Falcons' only Aviva Premiership Rugby victory since January was 37-21 at home to Harlequins in round 22 last season, whilst the last time that the Tynesiders failed to score a try in a match in the tournament was on a trip to London Irish in April 2014. Exeter Chiefs have lost just one of their last four Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters: 17-19 at Bath in the opening round of the new season. Exeter have won only twice on the road in the competition since last November: at Harlequins in February and at Saracens in May. The Falcons have beaten Exeter just once in their last eight encounters in all tournaments: 29-24 at Kingston Park in Premiership Rugby in October 2014.

The teams:

Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Tom Penny, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Giamba Venditti, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Micky Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Nili Latu, 6 Will Welch (c), 5 Calum Green, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Eric Fry.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Rob Vickers, 18 Taione Vea, 19 Joshua Furno, 20 Todd Clever, 21 Ruki Tipuna, 22 Tom Catterick, 23 Belisario Agulla.

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Matt Jess, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Don Armand, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Moray Low, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 Olly Woodburn.

Date: Sunday, November 1
Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 13:00 GMT
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant referees: Roger Baileff, Steve Lee
Television match official: Sean Davey
Timekeeper: David Hudson
Assessor: Andrew Vertigan