Preview: Newcastle v London Welsh

Date published: January 9 2015

Newcastle Falcons have made five changes to their starting line up against London Welsh as they look to build on recent excellent performances and secure their first Premiership win of 2015.

Dean Richards is able to welcome Simon Hammersley, Sinoti Sinoti, Juan Pablo Socino, Rob Vickers and Ally Hogg back to the starting XV.

Hammersley returns to the fray after a two-week absence, after he sustained a knock to the head against Harlequins in mid December and takes up his now familiar berth of full-back, with last week’s incumbent Alex Tait moving onto the left wing.

Leading tryscorer Sinoti comes in for Chris Harris on the right, while the tried and trusted centre pairing of Adam Powell and Juan Pablo Socino take the 13 and 12 shirts respectively.

For a fourth week running, Mike Blair and Tom Catterick line up at scrum-half and fly-half respectively, in a developing partnership that has drawn plenty of praise from pundits in recent weeks.

A change at loosehead sees Rob Vickers replace Eric Fry while Scott Lawson retains the hooker’s shirt alongside Kieran Brookes at tighthead.

In the second row, Calum Green and Josh Furno will once again provide a mix of power and line out prowess while in the back row, Ally Hogg returns at number eight with Mark Wilson moving onto the blindside flank and club captain Will Welch again starting on the openside.

New signing and Argentine international Juan Pablo Orlandi could be in line for his first start for the club from the bench.

Meanwhile, London Welsh make three changes.

The Exiles’ starting XV includes eight members of its Championship-winning side of last season, with five more named among the replacements.

In the backs, team captain Tom May returns to the starting line up after missing last weekend’s game against Harlequins and replaces the injured Nic Reynolds at outside centre. Elliot Kear is named on the right wing in place of Seb Stegmann.

In the forwards, Koree Britton comes in at hooker for the injured Nathan Vella.

On the bench, Richard Thorpe is in line to make his first appearance for the Exiles since Welsh’s Challenge Cup fixture against Bordeaux Begles on October 23, while scrum-half replacement Rob Lewis could make his 99th league appearance for London Welsh on Sunday.

Form: Newcastle Falcons have slipped to four straight Premiership defeats since their 20-10 victory at home to Gloucester on 21st November – they have however picked up three bonus points from those matches. The Falcons have won just two of their last 14 Premiership encounters played at Kingston Park. London Welsh have been defeated in all 18 first-team games they have played this season. The Exiles only league point this season was a try bonus gained during the 26-53 defeat at Bath in Round 2. London Welsh’s two previous visits to Newcastle for a league game were both in 1988 in the old Division Two, and both played at McCracken Park, the home of Northern RFC, winning 14-12 in the April and losing 26-34 in November.

The teams:

For Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Sinoti Sinoti, 13 Adam Powell, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Alex Tait, 10 Tom Catterick, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Joshua Furno, 4 Calum Green, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Eric Fry, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Kane Thompson, 20 Richard Mayhew, 21 Riki Tipuna, 22 Chris Harris, 23 Alesana Tuilagi

For London Welsh: 15 Will Robinson, 14 Elliot Kear, 13 Tom May (c), 12 Seb Jewell, 11 Nick Scott, 10 Piri Weepu, 9 Paul Rowley, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Pete Browne, 5 James Down, 4 Ben West, 3 Taione Vea, 2 Koree Britton, 1 Nathan Trevett
Replacements: 16 Nathan Morris, 17 Ricky Reeves, 18 Ben Cooper, 19 Richard Thorpe, 20 Ben Pienaar, 21 Rob Lewis, 22 Olly Barkley, 23 Seb Stegmann.

Date: Sunday, January 11
Venue: Kingston Park
Kickoff: 14:00 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Roger Baileff, Andy Watson
TMO: David Grashoff