Newcastle makes just one change as they entertain Bath
Argentine international Juan Pablo Socino comes into the Falcons starting XV
Bath make three changes following their narrow win against Worcester last weekend
Argentina centre Juan Pablo Socino steps up from the Falcons’ bench as Dean Richards only change to the starting XV that will face Bath in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday at Kingston Park.
The Falcons start the day at the foot of the table thanks to London Irish’s narrow Boxing Day win against Northampton, but it is too soon to give a debut to veteran number 10Andy Goode, who came out of retirement to sign a three-month deal with the Falcons on Monday.
Marcus Watson, the European Rugby Challenge Cup’s leading try-scorer, takes his place on the wing for the hosts and He may yet be up against younger brother Anthony, the England utility back, who is on the Bath bench.
Meanwhile, Bath have made three changes to the starting line-up that will take on Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park.
Up front, Nick Auterac returns to take his position on the loosehead side of the scrum, with Ross Batty and Henry Thomas alongside him.
The other two changes come in the backs with Fijian international Niko Matawalu coming in at scrum-half while Matt Banahan returns to take his place on the wing.
Newcastle’s only two league points this season came in a 15-all draw at Sale at the end of November
Falcons have played five matches at Kingston Park in major tournaments this season with their two victories both being in Europe against Russian outfit Enisei, and Connacht
Bath Rugby beat Worcester Warriors 21-14 at the Recreation Ground in Aviva Premiership Rugby on Sunday but have yet to win successive matches in the tournament this season.
Mike Ford’s side have won four of their last six away games in Premiership Rugby, only losing at Wasps and at Leicester in that sequence
Newcastle’s only victory over Bath in their last 20 encounters in all tournaments since 2004 was 27-16 at the Recreation Ground in October 2009
Bath have won on their last ten visits to Kingston Park since their last defeat there in October 2003
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Newcastle: Simon Hammersley
Bath: Rhys Priestland
Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Michael Young, 8 Nili Latu, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Ally Hogg, 5 Sean Robinson, 4 Mark Wilson, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Todd Clever, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Tom Catterick, 23 Belisario Agulla.
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 David Denton, 7 Guy Mercer (c), 6 Leroy Houston, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Matt Garvey, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nick Auterac.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 David Wilson, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 George Ford, 23 Anthony Watson.
Date: Saturday, January 2
Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Wayne Falla, John Meredith
TMO: Sean Davey