• Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Tom Catterick makes his first appearance of the season on Friday when Newcastle Falcons continue their European Challenge Cup campaign away to Lyon.

The 26-year-old, who has featured in a total of 101 competitive games for the Falcons, starts at full-back in a side showing 12 changes from the one which defeated Harlequins on Sunday. David Wilson, Alex Tait and Fred Burdon are the three survivors from that team, the latter captaining the Falcons in the first of back-to-back fixtures against a Lyon side currently placed third-bottom in the French Top 14.

Lyon and the Falcons sit tied on five points after two rounds of Challenge Cup action after one win and one defeat – unbeaten Ospreys topping the standings after beating both teams.

Zach Kibirige makes his first senior appearance of the season after recovering from injury, Brett Connon and Sam Egerton forming a new-look half-back partnership. Alex Rogers and Ben Sowrey join the front-row ranks, with American lock Nick Civetta making his second Challenge Cup appearance of the season alongside former England cap Mouritz Botha.

Glen Young is added to the back-row after scoring twice for Doncaster Knights in last weekend’s Championship triumph at Jersey, Harrison Orr also returning from Doncaster duty in a back-row completed by the return of Daniel Temm from last week’s England Sevens debut in Dubai.

Newcastle and Lyon have met twice before in Challenge Cup action, the Falcons winning 27-19 at home in November 2011 but losing the return leg 21-13 two months later at Matmut Stadium.

Head coach John Wells said: “It has been great to get our last two wins in the Aviva Premiership, and everyone at the club is really positive. Lyon is a new challenge for us, it is an exciting prospect to be going over there and the boys are looking forward to it.

“I don’t know how this group is going to work out over the six-game period, but all we can do is go over to France and try to win the next game. Our guys have put in a big effort in the Premiership, we were always going to make changes for Europe but we have still got a team which can go over and beat Lyon.

“In some ways Lyon have their own battles with being near the bottom of the Top 14, so it is probably fair to say this competition may not be their highest priority, but they are at home and they are a French team. We have got to go over there and understand that there is an opportunity to win this game, but we have got to match them physically and mentally to stand a chance.”

Aware of what kind of challenge awaits his team at Matmut Stadium, Wells added: “They will come at us route one, they are a big scrummaging and mauling team and they have forwards who like to carry close to the breakdown.

“It’s a challenge, but it’s an exciting one, and one of the many great things about European rugby is that it takes you to places you’ve never been. Going over to Lyon is different for us, it’s fresh and that helps you. Players all know what to expect at Gloucester, Sale or wherever, and having Europe during this fortnight just breaks it up while still maintaining a good level of rugby.”

Newcastle Falcons team to face Lyon (Friday, 7.30pm CET, 6.30pm GMT, Matmut Stadium)

15 Tom Catterick

14 Alex Tait

13 Dominic Waldouck

12 Fred Burdon (captain)

11 Zach Kibirige

10 Brett Connon

9 Sam Egerton

1 Alex Rogers

2 Ben Sowrey

3 David Wilson

4 Mouritz Botha

5 Nick Civetta

6 Glen Young

7 Daniel Temm

8 Harrison Orr


16 David Nelson

17 Rob Vickers

18 Andrew Foster

19 Marcus Watson

20 Mark Wilson

21 Joel Hodgson

22 Dan Marshall

23 Mike Delany

Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)