Friday 4 November 2022
Jamie Blamire comes into Newcastle Falcons’ side for Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership visit of Bath Rugby, starting at hooker for the first time this season.
The 24-year-old started the first two games of the campaign in the back row but takes over the No.2 shirt from George McGuigan, who is named on the bench following his midweek release from England’s training squad.
Elliott Obatoyinbo starts at full-back after scoring in the Falcons’ Premiership Rugby Cup victory at Leicester Tigers last time out, while Michael Young captains the side from scrum-half.
Matthew Dalton continues in the second row having made his Premiership debut at Northampton three weeks ago, when Newcastle took a pair of bonus points from a dramatic 32-31 defeat.
That was followed by a bye weekend and then the cancellation of their away game at Wasps, head coach Dave Walder saying: “Not having a league game for three weeks is challenging from a preparation point of view, especially when it’s at short notice, and it forces you to think on your feet.
“The first week we knew about because that was our scheduled bye week, and you have plans in place with your conditioning coaches to manage the guys through that period. Having the Wasps game cancelled only a few days before has obviously forced us to change our plans a little bit, but every club is in the same boat and you just look to keep the boys as battle-hardened as you can even when they haven’t played for three weeks.”
Sean Robinson misses the 3pm kick-off after being retained by England, who face an Argentina squad including Mateo Carreras, Matias Orlando and Matias Moroni. Greg Peterson, meanwhile, is away in Dubai helping his USA side try to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2023.
Saturday’s visit of Bath will be the 250th Premiership game to have been held at Kingston Park Stadium, with Walder having played in a significant number of those fixtures during his own playing days.
“It’s nice to reach that kind of milestone, and having appeared in a fair few of those I know how much of a factor it can be in our favour,” said the Falcons boss.
“There have been a lot of great games here over the years, we love the atmosphere that our fans create and we know it’s a ground that opposition teams don’t like coming to. It’s our home, we love it and we hope to be celebrating the 250th Premiership game here with another good win.”
Unperturbed by the absence of his international contingent, the former England fly-half added: “It’s great for us as a club having guys involved at international level, even if it does leave us a little bit thin in certain areas.
“You want your players to be operating at the top level because they will learn from being in that environment, and it helps get Newcastle Falcons’ name out there when people see our players representing their countries in major internationals.
“It’s an opportunity for the guys coming in to show us what they can do and drive that competition within the squad, and as much as I would want them to be here I’m delighted they will be playing for their countries.”
Up against a Bath side who recorded their first win of the season last time out against Northampton Saints, Walder said: “Bath have got a new coaching team so it takes a while for your ideas to bed in, as we’ve found ourselves to some degree.
“We’ve only actually had Mark Wilson as a new addition to our coaching group but a couple of guys have had a change in role, and we’ve brought in a reasonable amount of change to how we do certain things.
“Bath have also been closer in games than maybe some of their score-lines have suggested, and they’ve obviously had their win against Northampton in their last game. They’ve gone back to a simple game plan to build from the bottom up, they’ve got some really good players and it will be a good test.
“We’ve had games where we’re one bounce of the ball or a referee’s decision away from winning, but it is what it is and we’ll just continue working hard.
“We’ve identified as a group of coaches where we want to be and how we’re going to get there, and we’ve started along that road. We’re pleased with some of the performances, we just need to cut out those periods in games where we’ve not been at our best. If we can just hang in there, those tight moments will start to turn for us.”
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Newcastle Falcons team v Bath Rugby (Saturday, 3pm, Kingston Park Stadium)
15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Michael Young (captain); 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Richard Palframan, 4 Matthew Dalton, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Freddie Lockwood, 7 Connor Collett, 8 Callum Chick.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Phil Brantingham, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 George Merrick, 20 Guy Pepper, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Tom Penny.
Not available for selection: Mateo Carreras, Sam Clark, Trevor Davison, Carl Fearns, Gary Graham, Conor Kenny, Matias Moroni, Logovi’i Mulipola, Matias Orlando, Josh Peters, Greg Peterson, Sean Robinson, Oliver Spencer, Philip van der Walt, Will Welch.
Bath Rugby: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Gabriel Hamer-Webb, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 George Worboys, 9 Max Green; 1 Valeriy Morozov, 2 Tom Dunn (captain), 3 D’Arcy Rae, 4 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Quinn Roux, 6 Ted Hill, 7 Miles Reid, 8 Richard de Carpentier.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Arthur Cordwell, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Tom Ellis, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Tom Carr-Smith, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Jonathan Joseph.
Referee: Hamish Smales.
Injury Update | Jack Singleton
Following Saturday’s fixture with Northampton Saints, Gloucester Rugby can confirm Jack Singleton suffered a significant lower leg injury.
The hooker sustained the injury in a tackle in the 32nd minute of the Cherry & Whites’ win over the Saints.
Singleton underwent surgery on Monday evening and will now work closely with the Gloucester Rugby medical team during this rehabilitation period.
COO, Alex Brown, said:
“We’re all gutted for Jack. He’s an influential member of our squad, and clearly, we are disappointed to lose his quality from the pitch over the next few months.
“Whilst it’s still too early to pinpoint how quickly Jack will return, we know that he will be doing everything he can to make a full and swift recovery.”
Cowan-Dickie to leave the Chiefs
“Obviously, it’s a different competition, a different language – which I’ll have to learn – but I think it’s time for a change. Hopefully, I’ve still got plenty of years left in my career, but this is an opportunity for me to go over there and show what I am all about.”
Before now and the end of the season, Cowan-Dickie insists his sole focus is on the Chiefs and delivering performances to a club he says he will forever be grateful to.
“I’ve still lots to give here,” he added. “This is my club and I want to go out on a real high and win some trophies. It will be weird when the time comes to say my goodbyes, but for now I want to do all I can to ensure it finishes how I want it to.
“Since I arrived all those years ago, I’ve had some unbelievable memories and made friends for life. For me, this is the most important year of my Chiefs career because it’s my last. The club, the people, the supporters, they’ve all done so much for me and I’m excited to get out there and put my best foot forward.”
Among those to have helped nurture Cowan-Dickie – who has won 42 England caps and three for the Lions – from a raw rookie at Truro College to one of the world’s leading forwards have been the Chiefs coaching staff, whom he was quick to praise for their input.
“The early stages it was Robin Cowling and Ricky Pellow who did a lot for me,” he said. “Some of the things Robin made me do, like extra fitness, I still remember that now, but without them I wouldn’t be here now.
‘We showed the strength in depth in the squad’: Declan Kidney’s post-Newcastle analysis
London Irish Director of Rugby Declan Kidney believes the quality throughout the squad was prevalent in Saturday’s Round 12 Gallagher Premiership win over Newcastle Falcons.
Being the Exiles first game at home in six weeks, Kidney’s men made it a homecoming to remember as his side registered five tries to win 39-17 at the Gtech Community Stadium.
Three of Irish’s scores were dotted down by replacements, and with the bench emptied in the second half, the boss duly credited the performances of his finishers on the day to come back from a four-point deficit.
Such was the challenge that Newcastle posed on the day, Falcons took the lead in the third quarter but the headstrong attitude of his Exiles on the day saw the home side to their second league win of the year.
“Being back at home is a big influence, we’ve been on the road for quite a few days, someone said it’s been 43 days since our last home game!
“It’s a difficult way to run a sporting business, but credit to everyone in the organisation to keep a safe track and it was great that we managed to get a result,” Kidney stated.
“The scoreline probably does Newcastle a little bit of an injustice but we stuck at it to the end and we’re delighted with the result, though we know there’s still room for improvement.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the boys, we had a few things thrown at us in terms of injury, but it shows the strength in depth of the squad and the boys came through.”
In Irish’s absence from their west London home, a winless run of form followed but the belief in the squad and their performances that picked up five losing bonus points this season shone through on the evening.
“Sport is a microcosm of life, there’s no point in getting down on yourselves and you have to work your way through it, and we done that.
“We were probably tentative in the first half; they had a couple of balls that rolled out to gave us field position back and it was tight for that first 50 minutes, but they came back strongly in those 10 or 15 minutes after half-time.
“It was at that stage we said, ‘let’s get going here’ and I thought we played really well from there on in.”
Out of possession, Irish shone in their defensive output with strong sets that repelled the visitors in key moments of the second half.
The Boys in Green maintained their standing as the league’s highest performing side in regards to tackling percentages, completing 140/155 (90.3%) attempts on the evening.
As well as their free-flowing scores, Kidney was keen to credit the squad’s mindset when faced with a Newcastle team looking for their fourth win of the Premiership season.
He explained: “It has always been that combination of both, Newcastle have been scoring for fun with some great tries so to hold them to two tries was a real pleasing aspect of the performance.
“Those sets were absolutely massive in the outcome of the game.
“The tries are good and we’ll never take them for granted because we do a lot of work on that, but there’s a lot of work that goes on beforehand too.
“Teams are inclined to tire themselves out, gaps will appear towards the end of the game and they’re renowned for taking those opportunities also.
“We had a couple of good defensive sets and managed to take our opportunities when they came our way.
“I could’ve said the same thing in the last few weeks whereby we didn’t take our opportunities and one or two defensive sets that let us down, but that’s the tightness in all the matches.”
The evening, a massive occasion for Irish in terms of the context of the season, also allowed for personal accolades.
Captain Matt Rogerson reached a century of appearances for London Irish, with front-row forward Oliver Hoskins also surpassing the 150 milestone.
“That’s what it means to Matt, Oliver Hoskins also had 150 appearances too so the attention must go to those boys as well.
“They’re two big milestones, and I’ve had the good fortune to work with those lads from the day I’ve arrived, and they are a credit to themselves, their families and their team.
“When you have boys like that in your team, you know that you’ll always be there or thereabouts.”
The Exiles now take a two-week break from domestic action, with a first Heineken Champions Cup berth in a decade beginning with the arrival of Montpellier Hérault this Friday.
The Top 14 champions bring with them a unique skillset, Kidney commented, that will be another exciting challenge for Irish.
“The importance of the last couple of weeks is that we have been learning to win, all credit to the players to do that.
“When you have that hunger the last few weeks can give you, that’s what can happen.
“What we need to do now is use that going forward, it’s a new competition this week with new challenges, a different type of opposition with a different way of playing.
“It’s a good place to be after Saturday, a special thanks must go out to the supporters after the last couple of weeks, they were great again and helped to bring us through in those defensive sets.
“It’s brilliant for us, it’s the first time we’ve been in the competition for a decade and we’re the opening match, so the games keep getting bigger and better.”
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