Preview: Newcastle v Gloucester

Date published: October 15 2015

Newcastle have named their 2014/15 season top try scorer Sinoti Sinoti in their starting line-up for Friday's season opener against Gloucester.

Making his 31st appearance for the Falcons, Sinoti will be joined in the back three by young guns Tom Catterick and Simon Hammersley. All three will be looking to build on solid performances last season.

Former All Black Mike Delany will start at fly-half after joining the Falcons from Top 14 outfit Clermont. Meanwhile countryman Ruki Tipuna continues at scrum-half after a string of impressive performances during pre-season.

Completing the backline are Adam Powell and Chris Harris who line up in the centres.

Up front Tongan international Taione Vea will make his club debut at tighthead joined by Falcons stalwart Rob Vickers at loosehead and Scottish international hooker Scott Lawson.

England international Mouritz Botha is joined in the engine room by Calum Green, backed up by club captain Will Welch at openside and Richard Mayhew on the blindside flank.

USA international Todd Clever completes the Falcons' pack at number eight after impressing on his first two appearances for the club since arriving in the summer.

Meanwhile, Billy Twelvetrees skippers a Gloucester side that features two debutants in Willi Heinz and Paddy McAllister.

Twelvetrees partners Heinz at half-back in a line-up that features the core of the team that featured throughout the club's pre-season campaign and who boast a considerable amount of Premiership experience.

With the exception of Heinz and McAllister, and number eight Lewis Ludlow who will make his second Premiership start, all the starting line-up are first team regulars.

Meanwhile, returning from World Cup duty are the likes of Sione Kalamafoni, Ben Morgan and Jonny May who are all named amongst the replacements.

Form: You have to go back to September 2007 to discover the last time that Newcastle Falcons won their opening Aviva Premiership Rugby fixture of a new season, on that occasion beating Sale Sharks 33-12 at Kingston Park. The Falcons beat Harlequins 37-21 in round 22 last season and have not won successive Premiership Rugby encounters for exactly 12 months. Gloucester's most recent triumph in an Aviva Premiership Rugby round 1 fixture was 24-5 at home to Bath in 2009, whilst their concluding game in the tournament last season saw them go down 30-50 at Bath in round 22. Gloucester have not won on the road since beating Brive in the European Challenge Cup on 22nd January. Newcastle's only victory over Gloucester in their last five meetings in all tournaments was 20-10 at Kingston Park in Aviva Premiership Rugby in round 8 last season, whilst Gloucester's only win on Falcons soil since 2008 came in September 2013.

The teams:

Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Tom Catterick, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Ruki Tipuna, 8 Todd Clever, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Richard Mayhew, 5 Calum Green, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Taione Vea, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Eric Fry, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Josh Furno, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Micky Young, 22 Craig Willis, 23 Tom Penny.

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Bill Meakes, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Henry Purdy, 10 Billy Twelvetrees (c), 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Lewis Ludlow, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Jacob Rowan, 5 Elliott Stooke, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Paddy McAllister.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 Sione Kalamafoni, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Jonny May, 23 Steve McColl.

Date: Friday, October 16
Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Referee: Thomas Foley
Assistant referees: Andrew Small, Wayne Falla
Television match official: Trevor Fisher
Timekeeper: David Hudson
Assessor: Gary Welsh