Toby Flood captains Newcastle Falcons as they host Hartpury University RFC in Friday night’s Greene King IPA Championship clash at Kingston Park Stadium.
The fly-half leads a side looking to kick on from last weekend’s 17-13 victory at London Scottish, and is joined in the back-line by Fiji’s Josh Matavesi following his return from Rugby World Cup duty. Matavesi partners George Wacokecoke in the centres, the Fijian-born England Students international having dotted down five tries in his four games this season.
In the forward pack there is a return for Will Welch after injuring himself in the season-opening victory at Jersey Reds, while Nemani Nagusa makes a first appearance of the season at No 8.
Will Montgomery makes his first start for the club as he partners Darren Barry in the second row, hooker Charlie Maddison making his maiden league appearance for the Falcons in a freshened-up front row which also sees Adam Brocklebank and Rodney Ah You rotated in.
Looking to improve on last weekend’s four-point victory at London Scottish, director of rugby Dean Richards said: “It was too close for comfort at the end, and we had a chat about it in the changing rooms.
“When the weather is as bad as that we just need to play the conditions a bit more, and that comes down to both players and coaches alike. We all take responsibility for it, but at the end of the day we got the away win we wanted.”
Not reading too much into the fact that the Falcons enjoyed a 52-14 victory away to Hartpury when the teams last met on October 5 in the Championship Cup, Richards said: “Both teams will have different personnel from the cup game, and I’m not sure we can draw too much from the match we played down there a fortnight ago.
“I think we’re in a good place for Friday, even though the boys were disappointed by the performance last weekend. There’s a lot more to come from us than we have shown so far, we feel like we have a lot to prove and it will be a different level of performance from us.”
“We’ve trained at a very high pace all summer and that’s what we’ve been trying to bring to our game, although the conditions last weekend meant we had to contend with a lot of knock-ons, passing errors and spillages in contact.
“We probably needed to focus more on playing in the right areas rather than attacking from too deep, but that’s a learning curve for us and it was a really tough game which will benefit us going forward.”
Tickets for Friday’s game are on sale by calling 0871 226 6060.
Newcastle Falcons team to face Hartpury University RFC (Friday, 8pm, Kingston Park Stadium)
15 Alex Tait
14 Adam Radwan
13 George Wacokecoke
12 Josh Matavesi
11 Sinoti Sinoti
10 Toby Flood (captain)
9 Sam Stuart
1 Adam Brocklebank
2 Charlie Maddison
3 Rodney Ah You
4 Darren Barry
5 Will Montgomery
6 Will Welch
7 Gary Graham
8 Nemani Nagusa
16 Jamie Blamire
17 Trevor Davison
18 Mark Tampin
19 Sean Robinson
20 Callum Chick
21 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti
22 Joel Hodgson
23 Ben Stevenson
Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe