Match Preview: Newcastle Falcons v Bath Rugby – Anthony Watson returns

  • Newcastle have made three changes for the visit of Bath on Friday
  • Anthony Watson will make his first start for Bath since October
  • The Falcons have scored ten tries in their last two home games
Venue: Kingston Park Date: Friday, 6 January Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Newcastle Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards has made three changes to his side for their Premiership clash with Bath on Friday.

Fit-again flanker Will Welch returns to captain the side after making his comeback from the bench last week against Wasps following a fractured cheekbone.

He replaces Ally Hogg in a reshuffled back row after the Scot having picked up an injury in last Friday’s 34-30 home loss to the league leaders.

Canadian international Evan Olmstead returns from injury to take up a spot in the second row, while the hamstring injury suffered by Marcus Watson means Belisario Agulla shifts to the wing in a move which sees Dominic Waldouck come in at outside centre.

On the bench there could be a first appearance of the season for Sean Robinson after returning to fitness.



Meanwhile, Anthony Watson will make his first start for Bath Rugby since October for Bath this weekend.

The England international marked his return from injury off the bench against Exeter Chiefs on New Year’s Eve and will start at full-back. The wings will once again be occupied by Aled Brew and Semesa Rokoduguni, the club’s leading try scorer this season.

Jonathan Joseph and Ben Tapuai will continue their exciting partnership in the midfield, with George Ford and Darren Allinson forming a new partnership to orchestrate proceedings at fly-half and scrum-half respectively.

In an unchanged front row for Bath’s first game of 2017, Tom Dunn will be supported either side by Max Lahiff and Nathan Catt, whose form was recently rewarded with a place in England’s 45-man squad for the Six Nations.

The towering presence of Elliott Stooke and Luke Charteris make up a physical second row, while Tom Ellis and Francois Louw continue at blindside and openside flanker. Zach Mercer completes the starting line-up at number eight, with the 19-year-old facing the side that he made his Premiership debut against back in September.

Hooker Jack Walker and centre Robbie Fruean could make their first-team bow against the Falcons off the bench, and Chris Cook makes his return to the squad after injury.

KEY STATS
  • Newcastle Falcons have lost their last two matches of 2016, at Saracens on Christmas Eve and at home to Wasps six days later
  • The Falcons have scored 23 tries in the twelve rounds of Premiership Rugby this season and 10 of those have come in the last two home games
  • Bath Rugby’s only victory in the last four rounds of Premiership Rugby was 14-11 at home to Saracens on 3rd December
  • The Black, Blue and whites have not won away from home in any competition since their trip to Exeter in Premiership Rugby on 30th October
  • Newcastle’s solitary victory in their last dozen meetings with Bath in Premiership Rugby was 19-14 at Kingston Park in this equivalent fixture last season played on 2nd January
LINE-UPS
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Belisario Agulla, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Evan Olmstead, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Will Witty, 20 Sean Robinson, 21 Michael Young, 22 Craig Willis, 23 Fred Burdon
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Aled Brew, 10 George Ford (c), 9 Darren Allinson, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Matt Garvey, 20 Paul Grant, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Robbie Fruean
Date: Friday, January 6
Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: John Meredith, Wayne Falla
TMO: Keith Lewis
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