Planet Rugby

Preview: Newcastle v Saracens

18th April 2014 13:15

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Newcastle Adam Powell Bath

Old side battle: Adam Powell

Adam Powell starts Easter Sunday's Aviva Premiership clash against his former club Saracens as Newcastle Falcons look to bounce back.

Powell, who made the switch from Allianz Park to Kingston Park in March of last year, is one of seven changes for the visit of the league leaders.

Joel Hodgson is handed his first Premiership start of the campaign, replacing Rory Clegg at number ten, while experienced scrum-half Mike Blair returns to the fray after being used as a second-half replacement at the Madejski last Sunday. Alex Tait gets the nod at full-back with Noah Cato moving back onto the wing.

Upfront, George McGuigan wins his first Premiership start of his career and comes in for Matt Thompson at hooker, while the talented Dom Barrow packs down alongside Scott MacLeod in the engine room.

Richard Mayhew, who will make his 50th appearance alongside MacLeod, replaces Andy Saull in the back-row.

"We have trained well this week eager to make amends for last week," said Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards.

"Saracens are a quality side and will be difficult opposition but this is a game that the lads should relish and look forward to.

"The crowd have been fantastic for us all season at Kingston Park and it is important that they really get behind up this weekend."

Meanwhile, Richard Wigglesworth captains the side from scrum-half, and is joined by Charlie Hodgson in the halves to make up an experienced half-back pairing.

In the backs, Alex Goode returns to the side to start at full-back after recovering from a head knock, with Chris Wyles moving to inside centre.

Wyles is partnered by Tim Streather in the midfield whilst on the wings, Fijian international Michael Tagicakibau and New Zealander Jack Wilson come into the side.

Up front, Richard Barrington starts at loosehead prop alongside England Saxons hooker Jamie George and British and Irish Lions tighthead Matt Stevens.

At lock, Springbok international Alistair Hargreaves returns to Saracens starting XV after an extended spell on the sidelines - he is joined by Eoin Sheriff in the second row.

England Saxons flanker Will Fraser returns to action for the first time since November to start at openside flanker, and he is joined by Nick Fenton-Wells and Jackson Wray in the back row, who start at blindside flanker and number eight respectively.

Form: Newcastle Falcons have lost their last thirteen Aviva Premiership Rugby matches, their worst ever run in the tournament. The Falcons have lost their last six home games in the Premiership since they beat London Irish 13-11 at Kingston Park in round 6. Saracens have already secured a place in the Aviva Premiership Rugby semi-finals for the fifth year in a row, whilst victory here will ensure that match is played at Allianz Park. Saracens have lost only one game in the tournaments since round six: 13-22 at home to London Irish on 8th February. Saracens have won their last nine encounters with Newcastle in all tournaments since the Falcons 13-9 victory in the Premiership at Kingston Park in February 2009.

The teams:

For Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Adam Powell, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Richard Mayhew, 5 Scott Macleod, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Grant Shiells
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 Gary Strain, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Ian Nagle, 20 Chris York, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Phil Godman, 23 Danny Barnes

For Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Michael Tagicakibau, 13 Tim Streather, 12 Chris Wyles, 11 Jack Wilson, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Nick Fenton-Wells, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Eoin Sheriff, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Jamie George, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Scott Spurling, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Hayden Smith, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nils Mordt, 23 Ben Ransom.

Date: Sunday, April 20
Venue: Kingston Park
Kickoff: 15:00 (local, 14:00 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell, Robin Goodliffe
TMO: Graham Hughes

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