Premiership Preview: Newcastle Falcons
Last Season: 11th
Top Tryscorer: Sinoti Sinoti (9)
Top Pointscorer: Tom Catterick (74)
Last year was very much a case of ‘so near, yet so far’ for Falcons, who finished the year firmly in 11th place, but it could have been so much better. In a year where the kicking duties were shared around, and efforts often proved to be off-colour, the north east outfit lost ten games by a try or less.
After racking up more points than semi-finalists, Leicester last season, their inability to close out closely contested games ultimately proved costly. If they can turn those tight losses into wins, the sky is the limit for John Wells’ side, but that could turn out to be difficult with their close competitors all strengthening well during the summer.
The Coach: John Wells
After an excellent playing career, Wells has enjoyed a stellar coaching career so far. Yorkshire born, the 42-year-old has already enjoyed time as part of the staff at Leicester Tigers and England, before arriving at Kingston Park as forwards coach in 2012. The former flanker was handed the role of head coach at the start of last season and will be keen to build on the numerous positives to be taken from his first year in charge.
Key Man: Sinoti Sinoti
Weighing in at almost 16 stone, Sinoti is one of the most powerful and fearsome wingers in the game. After running in a respectable nine tries last year, the 30-year-old has plenty to build on ahead of the new campaign. The former Toulon man, who has one cap for Samoa, plays with an infectiously positive attitude, and his performances will be key if he and his team mates are to achieve their goals this year.
Prediction: 10th, a steady rise
There has been talk of aiming for a top half finish, but improvement remains the primary goal for 2015/16. With progress made off the field during the close season, good things should start to happen for the Falcons this year. With a talented and hungry squad already, plus a number of fresh faces, they will be a threat to most sides and a shock or two could well come their way. But, with so many new additions, consistency may prove hard to come by, and another lower-half finish looks set to be on the cards. Odds for Title: 150/1.