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Team news: Penny skippers side in Galway



Friday 9 December 2022

Tom Penny captains Newcastle Falcons on Saturday as they open their EPCR Challenge Cup campaign away to Irish province, Connacht.

The 28-year-old features at centre in a side showing ten changes from the one which started at London Irish last weekend – Adam Radwan, Matias Moroni, Greg Peterson, Sebastian de Chaves and Callum Chick all retaining their places.

Conrad Cade, Jamie Blamire and Mark Tampin freshen up the front row, with Matthew Dalton and Tom Marshall added to the back row after coming on from the bench last weekend.

Sam Stuart and Tian Schoeman, another two replacements at London Irish, form the half-back pairing, with Nathan Earle and Alex Tait adding their experience to the back three.

Spanish international Josh Peters, flanker Marcus Tiffen and scrum-half Josh Barton are all primed for their Challenge Cup debuts after being named on the bench, as is centre Ewan Greenlaw, who is studying medicine at Sunderland University.

Newcastle and Connacht are meeting for the first time since the 2015-16 season, which saw the Falcons losing 25-10 in Galway before winning 29-5 a week later on Tyneside, with head coach Dave Walder looking forward to the start of this season’s European journey.

He said: “In some respects there are similarities between ourselves and Connacht from a bigger picture point of view.

“They’re perhaps not resourced to the same extent as the other Irish provinces, they’re a little bit of an outpost geographically, they have to contend with a lot of rough weather and they’re renowned for that real collective grit.

“They’re a very well-coached team with lots of talented players, and like ourselves they now have an artificial pitch. They work really hard for each other as you’d expect, but over the past five or six years they’ve added that real quality and raised themselves quite considerably from where they’d been prior to that.

“They’ve won most of their home games this season and they get energised by playing in Galway, but we’re looking forward to going over there and testing ourselves. We’re going over there with a really positive attitude, looking to play.”

Keen to improve on last weekend’s loss at London Irish following a pair of Gallagher Premiership victories against Gloucester and Exeter, Walder believes the general curve of his team’s performance is an upward one.

“Like I said straight after the game, we just felt it was a bad day at the office,” said the head coach.

“It wasn’t a true reflection of ourselves as a team, and we didn’t show the elements of our game which we’ve been doing better over the past six or seven weeks. But we addressed it on Monday morning, put it to bed and we’ve had a good week as we look to get going in Europe.

“I said from the outset we have a new coaching group, and it’s going to take us a while to get things bedded in. One of the big things I talked about was attitude, both in training and games, and generally the lads have been brilliant with that. Nobody sets out to play badly, but in the Premiership if you take your eye off the ball even for five minutes, you’re made to pay for it.

“There have been some encouraging signs, though. Mark Laycock’s attacking structure is starting to come together, Mark Wilson’s contact work has generally seen an improvement and Micky Ward and Scott MacLeod have done a great job with the forwards. Even in defeat last weekend our line-out defence against London Irish – one of the best line-outs in the league – was right up there, and we’ve seen signs of things coming to fruition.

“We’ve still got more to do, of course, and we’re a long way from where we want to get to, but the work is going in and the results are starting to be seen.”

Expecting a stern test during Saturday’s 5.30pm kick-off in Galway, he added: “Connacht are a good side, and they’ve got the ability to move the ball around as well as having that go-forward.

“They’ve got a hard nose to them, and it’s nice to test ourselves against teams from different leagues. The Gallagher Premiership is great and we love being part of it, but everyone knows everyone there, so this tournament is a great opportunity to freshen things up and be exposed to some different opposition and environments.”

Saturday’s game is being shown live on Viaplay (formerly Premier Sports) which is a subscription channel. Click here for further details on how to access Viaplay.

Newcastle Falcons team v Connacht (Saturday, 5.30pm, Galway Sportsground)

15 Alex Tait, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Tom Penny (captain), 11 Nathan Earle, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Sam Stuart; 1 Conrad Cade, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Matthew Dalton, 7 Tom Marshall, 8 Callum Chick.

Replacements: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Josh Peters, 20 Marcus Tiffen, 21 Josh Barton, 22 Josh Thomas, 23 Ewan Greenlaw.

Not available for selection: Phil Brantingham, Sam Clark, Connor Collett, Carl Fearns, Gary Graham, Louie Johnson, Conor Kenny, Freddie Lockwood, Pete Lucock, Logovi’i Mulipola, Matias Orlando, Sean Robinson, Oliver Spencer, Philip van der Walt, George Wacokecoke, Will Welch.

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Tom Daly, 12 Cathal Forde, 11 Diarmuid Kilgallen, 10 David Hawkshaw, 9 Caolin Blade; 1 Peter Dooley, 2 Dylan Tierney-Martin, 3 Jack Aungier, 4 Josh Murphy, 5 Niall Murray, 6 Jarrad Butler (captain), 7 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 8 Paul Boyle.

Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Sam Illo, 19 Leva Fifita, 20 Oisín McCormack, 21 Colm Reilly, 22 Conor Fitzgerald, 23 Tom Farrell.

Referee: Luc Ramos (France).

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby





Sale Sharks have agreed a deal to sign Fiji captain Waisea Nayacalevu from French Top14 side Toulon. 

The explosive centre, who starred for his country during the recent World Cup, has signed a one-year contract with an option for a further year. 

He will join up with Alex Sanderson’s Sharks squad ahead of the start of the 2024/25 Gallagher Premiership season. 

Waisea, 33, said: “I’ve watched the Premiership for a long time and it’s always been in the back of my mind that I would love to play there one day and experience rugby in England. 

“Now that opportunity has arrived and I’m really, really happy and grateful. I’m so excited to get over there and join the boys and see how I can contribute to the team. 

“I have spoken to Telusa Veainu and he only has positive things to say about the club and about Manchester. 

“I’m looking forward to playing with some of the guys I’ve played against, like Tom Curry and George Ford. But I also know there are a lot of really talented young players in the Sale Sharks squad and I’m excited to share my experience and help them develop as much as I can.  

“I told Alex that it’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years of my career and it’s something I’m passionate about.” 

Nayacalevu, who stands at 6’4” and weighs in at 16st 7lb, spent ten years at Top14 side Stade Français before making the switch to Toulon in 2022.  

He has won 34 caps for Fiji, slotting in at both centre and on the wing, and captained his country at last year’s World Cup, where the Pacific Islanders made the quarter-finals, losing 30-24 to England in Marseille. 

He also famously scored for Fiji in their memorable pre-World Cup win against England at Twickenham. 

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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Falcons star to join Saracens



Phil Brantingham to join Saracens

Tuesday 05 March 2024 Written by: Tom Grisedale

Prop-forward Phil Brantingham will leave Newcastle Falcons in the summer to join Saracens.

The 22-year-old has played 25 games for his home town club, and leaves with the thanks and best wishes of everyone at the Falcons.

Chairman of rugby Matt Thompson said: “Phil has done well for us and we made him a good offer to stay here.

“We respect his decision and wish him all the best for his move in the summer, but between now and then he will be fully committed to finishing the season strongly for Newcastle Falcons.”

Source – Newcastle Falcons Rugby

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Sale Sharks can confirm that forward Cobus Wiese will leave the club at the end of the season to return to South Africa. 

The 26-year-old lock has played almost 80 games for the club and scored five tries since joining from the DHL Stormers ahead of the 2020/21 season. 

He played a key role last year as Sale reached the Premiership final, and this season he has featured a further 13 times for Alex Sanderson’s side. 

Alex said: “Cobus will be missed by all of us on so many levels. He’s the most polite and courteous of people off the field, but the most wildly excitable man on the field, and on a night out. 

“To say Cobus wears his heart on his sleeve is to do him a disservice with regards to his emotional commitment for which his body has paid the price on occasion.  

“He leads by example and has earnt the respect and adoration of the group both on a professional and a personal level. We wish him every success and happiness with his move back home.” 

Everyone at Sale Sharks would like to thank Cobus for his contribution to the club and the team during his time here and we wish him all the very best for the future.  

Images & Content from Sale Sharks Rugby

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