Newcastle face league leaders Saracens in the Aviva Premiership on Sunday: 15:00 kick-off
The Falcons make two changes with Argentine back Belisario Agulla given his first Premiership start
Sarries are Captained by Jamie George as they look to continue their perfect start to their season
Newcastle Falcons Director of Rugby Dean Richards has made two changes from the Aviva Premiership round five draw at Sale Sharks, as league leaders and defending champions Saracens travel to the North East on Sunday.
Both changes come in the backline as Belisario Agulla comes in for Giamba Venditti on the wing to make his first Premiership start while Tom Catterick comes in for Mike Delany at fly-half after the kiwi limped off during the Falcons 15-15 draw against Sale Sharks last weekend.
However, even with the odds against his side, Richards is looking forward to seeing how much his players have improved in recent weeks when they take on the reigning Premiership champions.
“Saracens will be a good challenge for the boys,” said Richards. “We will look forward to this game purely because they are such a good team and you pit your wits against the best and they are the best at this moment in time.”
Meanwhile, Sarries will have Jamie George, fresh from signing a new contract, leading the side out while packing down pack down alongside Richard Barrington and Juan Figallo in the visitors front row.
Mark McCall’s men have triumphed on their last five visits to the north-east, however, the Sarries boss is not underestimating the Falcons in spite of two sides also being at opposite ends of the Aviva Premiership table.
“We are well aware of the task that faces us on Sunday afternoon. The Falcons ran us very close in our last meeting at Kingston Park, and we are expecting another tough game this weekend.
“We are on a good a run, but that will mean very little if we don’t turn up on Sunday with the right approach. Dean Richards has put together a very strong squad at Newcastle who are traditionally very strong at home. It will be a real test for us.”
Newcastle recorded their first two league point of the new Premiership Rugby season courtesy of a 15-all draw at Sale last Saturday
The Falcons have won only one of their last 14 Premiership Rugby fixtures
Saracens have won the last dozen encounters between the two clubs in all tournaments, stretching back to 2009
The defending champions have also won their last ten matches in all competitions
Sarries continue to set the pace at the top of the Aviva Premiership rugby table with a perfect played five, won five record
94% – Saracens’ Jamie George has the (94% – 47/50) has the best lineout throw success in Premiership this season (min. 25 throws)
Newcastle 3/1 Draw 40/1 Saracens 1/4
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Newcastle: Nili Latu
Tonga Captain Nili Latu is an experienced back-rower and is one of the Rugby world’s most lethal defenders. He has struggled to recapture his greatest form since joining the Falcons during the summer, however, was much improved last weekend as Newcastle picked up their first points of the season as they drew away against Sale Sharks.
Saracens: Jamie George
Fresh from signing a multi-year contract extension with the Allianz Park club, Jamie George will skipper Saracens in the North East, with the England hooker handed the captain’s armband for the second time this season. The confident lineout thrower will play a key role in getting on top of Newcastle from the first whistle with his scrummaging skills and ever-improving all round game.
Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Belisario Agulla, 13 Adam Powell, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Tom Catterick, 9 Michael Young, 8 Nili Latu, 7 Will Welch, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Calum Green, 4 Sean Robinson, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 George McGuigan, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Taione Vea, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Sonatane Takulua 22 Craig Willis, 23 Chris Harris
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Mike Ellery, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Jamie George (c), 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Billy Vunipola, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Tim Streather, 23 Ben Ransom
Date: Sunday, December 6
Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell, Andy Watson
TMO: David Grashoff