Having scored two tries from the bench last weekend, Ben Stevenson starts for Newcastle Falcons in Sunday’s Greene King IPA Championship trip to Cornish Pirates.

The 21-year-old was only on the field for 12 minutes but dotted down twice in the 45-7 home win over Hartpury, a result which left the Falcons and Sunday’s opponents as the top two teams in the division.

Director of rugby Dean Richards has made an additional four changes to his starting XV, only one of those coming in the backs as Tom Arscott slots in at full-back.

Jamie Blamire replaces the injured Charlie Maddison at hooker, Sean Robinson returns in the second row and John Hardie comes in on the open-side flank for what Richards acknowledges will be Newcastle’s toughest test so far this season.

The Falcons boss said: “Having had a good look at Cornish Pirates I think they’re the closest thing you’ll get to a Premiership team in the Championship.

“They’re very well-drilled, they’ve got a great balance to their team and it will be a very hard test for us.”

Not shocked in the least at Pirates’ table-topping early-season form, Richards added: “Some people have said that their home victory over Ealing in the opening round was a surprise result, but we certainly don’t feel that way.

“We picked them out right from the start as being one of the teams to beat, and on their home soil that becomes even more difficult for any visiting side.

“We’re certainly not taking them lightly because you just can’t afford to do that, and we’re in for a really good and exciting game down there.”

Newcastle Falcons team v Cornish Pirates (Sunday October 27, 2.30pm, The Mennaye Field)

15 Tom Arscott

14 Ben Stevenson

13 George Wacokecoke

12 Josh Matavesi

11 Sinoti Sinoti

10 Toby Flood (captain)

9 Sam Stuart

 

1 Adam Brocklebank

2 Jamie Blamire

3 Rodney Ah You

4 Darren Barry

5 Sean Robinson

6 Will Welch

7 John Hardie

8 Nemani Nagusa

 

Replacements

16 Kyle Cooper

17 Trevor Davison

18 Mark Tampin

19 Sebastian de Chaves

20 Gary Graham

21 Michael Young

22 Joel Hodgson

23 Alex Tait

 

Referee: Matthew Turvey