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Preview: Newcastle Falcons v Dragons

30th January 2014 12:13

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Gonzalo Tiesi Arg warm up RC 2013

First start: Gonzalo Tiesi

Argentine Gonzalo Tiesi makes his first start for Newcastle Falcons as they welcome the Dragons to Kingston Park on Friday.

Tiesi made the switch to Tyneside last November, but within days of signing for the, the potent centre sustained a hamstring injury whilst on international duty against England at Twickenham.

Meanwhile, it will be a century of appearances for Mark Wilson with the Cumbrian back-row joining the likes of Ally Hogg and skipper Will Welch in reaching the magic milestone.

Wholesale changes have been made for the visit of the Pro12 club as Dean Richards prepares his charges for the return of the Premiership.

Oliver Tomaszczyk is the sole survivor from last weekend's trip to Saracens and partners loosehead Rob Vickers and hooker Matt Thompson in the front-row.

Dom Barrow makes a welcome return to the second-row alongside Fraser McKenzie following two months on the sideline, while Welch, Saull and Wilson all start in the back-row.

In the backline Warren Fury and Phil Godman get the nod at scrum-half and fly-half respectively with Tiesi and Adam Powell forming a mouth-watering combination in the centres. Samoan international Sinoti Sinoti and Noah Cato occupy both wings, and Alex Tait pulls on the number 15 jersey.

"We have approached the game as if it's an Premiership game, and tomorrow night is a huge game for us as we look to build momentum going into a big month of league games," said Richards.

"Newport are a very good side and they play with a lot of ambition, and they like to throw the ball around the park.

"We've got a huge amount of respect for them as they have pushed a lot of top quality teams close so we know it's going to be an extremely tough contest."

Meanwhile, flanker Darren Waters will make his first appearance for Newport Gwent Dragons this season as he returns to the starting XV on Friday.

He returns from injury after he ruptured ligaments in his left knee in pre-season, leaving him to wait on the sidelines for five months.

"I'd like to thank (head coach) Lyn Jones for giving me this chance. He has got a lot of faith in me and I want to repay him for that," said the back row," said Waters.

"Lyn said he has watched footage of me but needs to see me in the flesh, so it's up to me to impress.

"I'm so excited to be back and it's a great chance for me - I've worked hard to get back and now I have to deliver what the coaches have asked of me."

Lyn Jones has out his faith in a new look regional team as the only player to retain his place from last weekend is full-back Dan Evans. He is joined in the back five by wingers Will Harries who has moved to openside wing and Hallam Amos who returns to the team from injury. The centre pairing takes on the form of Adam Hughes and Lewis Robling. Italian international Kris Burton gets the nod from Jones and starts as fly-half and young gun Jonathan Evans takes on the role of scrum-half.

The front five are all change as Nathan Williams, Hugh Gustafson and Francisco Chaparro are named in the front row. The second row is then taken up by Matthew Screech and Rob Sidoli who also dons the captaincy for this match. The back-row consists of Jevon Groves, flanker Darren Waters and Leuan Jones.

There have been seven changes made to the bench but T. Rhys Thomas retains his place. He is joined on the bench by Aaron Coundley, Dan Way, Cory Hill, Nic Cudd, Wayne Evans, Principality player of the month Dorian Jones and Ashley Smith.

The teams:

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Warren Fury, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Will Welch (c), 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Franck Montanella, 18 Gary Strain, 19 Scott MacLeod, 20 Chris York, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Jamie Helleur

Dragons: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Will Harries, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Lewis Robling, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Kris Burton, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Ieuan Jones, 7 Darren Waters, 6 Jevon Groves, 5 Rob Sidoli (c), 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Francisco Chaparro, 2 Hugh Gustafson, 1 Nathan Williams
Replacements: 16 T. Rhys Thomas, 17 Aaron Coundley, 18 Dan Way, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Nic Cudd, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Dorian Jones, 23 Ashley Smith.

Date: Friday 31st January
Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 1945 (local and GMT)
Referee: Daniel Jones (Wal)
Assistant referees: Chris Sharp, Gordon Goodliffe (both Wal)

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