Friday 16 December 2022
Welsh fly-half Josh Thomas starts for Newcastle Falcons on Saturday when they host Cardiff Rugby in EPCR Challenge Cup action.
The 5.30pm Kingston Park kick-off sees the Falcons making nine changes from the side which opened the campaign away to Connacht last weekend – Thomas taking the No.10 shirt in his first season after joining from Ospreys.
Argentina wing Mateo Carreras returns to the side determined to maintain his try-per-game ratio, having dotted down seven times in seven outings this term.
Elliott Obatoyinbo comes in at full-back, with Zach Kerr starting at inside centre in place of the injured Tom Penny, partnering Ben Stevenson.
Fit-again prop Trevor Davison takes up a place on the loose-head side, with England Under-20s hooker Ollie Fletcher handed a start. Jamie Blamire misses out with a head knock picked up last weekend, while Charlie Maddison is serving the first of his three-game suspension.
Sean Robinson returns to captain the side from blind-side flanker in a move which sees Matthew Dalton pushed into the second row, with open-side Guy Pepper the other returning player. Brett Connon and Iwan Stephens are added to the bench, with the Falcons playing the second of their four scheduled pool games.
Head coach Dave Walder insisted his squad have been able to prepare as usual for the game despite sub-zero temperatures throughout the week in North East England.
He said: “It’s been freezing cold all week but luckily our 3G pitch has meant we’ve been able to train as normal, and we’ve also got a first game under our new floodlights.
“Our home advantage of having a dark south-west corner of the pitch where anything goes might be lost now, but at least our supporters will be able to see the other end of the field!
“Cardiff obviously have a 3G of their own so they’ll be used to that side of things, and they play a brilliant brand of rugby from what I’ve seen of them.”
The Welsh region began their European campaign with a home win over French club Brive last Saturday, with Walder aware of the size of the challenge facing the Falcons.
“It should be a great contest, and it’s nice to be playing teams from other leagues,” he said.
“We love the Gallagher Premiership, I think it’s an outstanding competition with quality games every single week but it’s also a nice freshener to test yourself against new opposition and potentially be exposed to some different styles and challenges.
“Last week over at Connacht was very much like that, and we always enjoy the European competitions.”
Cardiff are led by experienced former Wales and Lions prop Dai Young, with Walder saying of the former Wasps boss: “Dai came to Wasps after my own time there had ended so I don’t know him very well personally, but he’s someone I have a lot of respect for and it will be great to catch up.
“I hope they get up here safely given all the transport disruption this week, and everyone’s just looking forward to 5.30pm on Saturday now.”
Season ticket holders and season parking pass holders are reminded that this game IS included in their 2022-23 package.
The match is being shown live on Viaplay.
Newcastle Falcons team v Cardiff Rugby (Saturday, 5.30pm, Kingston Park Stadium)
15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Nathan Earle, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Zach Kerr, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Josh Thomas, 9 Sam Stuart; 1 Trevor Davison, 2 Ollie Fletcher, 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Sebastian de Chaves, 5 Matthew Dalton, 6 Sean Robinson (captain), 7 Guy Pepper, 8 Tom Marshall.
Replacements: 16 Conrad Cade, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Josh Peters, 20 Marcus Tiffen, 21 Josh Barton, 22 Brett Connon, 23 Iwan Stephens.
Cardiff Rugby: 15 Ben Thomas, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Max Llewellyn, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tomos Williams; 1 Rhys Carre, 2 Kirby Myhill, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 4 Seb Davies, 5 Rory Thornton, 6 Josh Turnbull (captain), 7 Ellis Jenkins, 8 Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Will Davies-King, 19 Teddy Williams, 20 James Ratti, 21 Ellis Bevan, 22 Mason Grady, 23 Theo Cabango.
Not available for selection: Jamie Blamire, Phil Brantingham, Sam Clark, Connor Collett, Carl Fearns, Gary Graham, Louie Johnson, Conor Kenny, Freddie Lockwood, Pete Lucock, Charlie Maddison, Logovi’i Mulipola, Matias Orlando, Tom Penny, Oliver Spencer, Philip van der Walt, George Wacokecoke, Will Welch.
Referee: Vivien Praderie (France).
Irish name side for west London derby
Declan Kidney has confirmed the squad for Sunday’s derby clash with Harlequins at the Gtech Community Stadium in Round 16 of the Gallagher Premiership (3pm kick-off).
Will Goodrick-Clarke, Agustin Creevy and Oliver Hoskins are in the front row, with Rob Simmons and Adam Coleman in the second row.
Matt Rogerson captains the side from the six jersey and is joined in the back row by Tom Pearson and Chandler Cunningham-South.
Ben White and Paddy Jackson link up to form the halfback duo, and Rory Jennings partners Benhard van Rensburg in the centres.
Michael Dykes, Lucio Cinti and James Stokes complete the line-up as the back three.
“Whenever these two clubs pitch up against one another, it always creates a good game of rugby,” said Declan Kidney, Director of Rugby.
“I know that we are expecting a good crowd at the Gtech Community Stadium on Sunday, and they will inevitably create a great atmosphere.
“We need to make sure that we put in a full 80-minute performance to give our supporters a reason to show their voice. Harlequins are a well-drilled side, and we know it will be a difficult challenge this weekend, but one we look forward to.”
15 James Stokes, 14 Lucio Cinti, 13 Benhard van Rensburg, 12 Rory Jennings, 11 Michael Dykes, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben White, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 2 Agustin Creevy, 3 Oliver Hoskins, 4 Rob Simmons, 5 Adam Coleman, 6 Matt Rogerson (c), 7 Tom Pearson, 8 Chandler Cunningham-South.
16 Mike Willemse, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Ciaran Parker, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Luca Morisi, 23 Henry Arundell.
Baxter issues Moon injury update
By Mark Stevens
Rob Baxter says he cannot give a timescale as to when prop Ben Moon will return to the Exeter Chiefs match-day squad.
The 33-year-old forward is currently Exeter’s longest-serving player, having made his debut in 2008 away to Sedgley Park, and is the last remaining member of their 2009-10 promotion squad.
The England international, however, has not featured for the Devon club since coming off the bench against Munster in last April’s Heineken Champions Cup clash at Sandy Park.
Asked by the media this week about Moon, the Chiefs’ Director of Rugby said: “I wouldn’t hold out hope that he’s going to be appearing soon. It’s been a challenge for Ben for a little period of time now, it’s not just been this season.
“He’s had periods in and out with it, it’s something that’s been affecting him for a little while and because of what it is we just have to be very careful with it.”
Moon has featured in all six of Exeter’s Premiership final appearances at Twickenham – and he also played in the 2020 European Champions Cup final win over Racing 92, and Exeter’s first major final when they beat Northampton Saints to win the 2014 LV Cup.
Moon won eight England caps in the 2018-19 season, but did not make the squad for that autumn’s World Cup in Japan.
“He’s still active around the club, he’s still here, he’s in training, he’s continuing very hard with his rehab and getting everything else he can right, but we’ve just got to be really careful around that neck.
“It’s probably one of those things where it’s getting to the stage where there’s not a lot more we can do. I can’t talk for Ben about his future, but you’re not going to see him in the immediate future on the pitch.”
TEAM NEWS – Sale Sharks v Bath Rugby
South African talisman Rob du Preez is set to make his 100th Sharks appearance whilst Alex Groves is in line for his Gallagher Premiership debut as Alex Sanderson names his side to face Bath Rugby at the AJ Bell Stadium tomorrow night. (Kick-off 7:45pm – Live on BT Sport)
Sanderson makes seven changes to the Sale starting line-up as his squad returns to Gallagher Premiership action following defeat at the hands of Ulster in the Champions Cup.
In the forwards, there is a complete change of the Sharks front-row as Simon McIntyre, Tommy Taylor and Nick Schonert all return to face Bath.
Cobus Wiese links back up with Josh Beaumont in the second row following a one-match suspension for a dangerous tackle in the Sharks’ clash with Toulouse two weeks ago.
Jono Ross captains the side in the absence of Ben Curry, whilst Sam Dugdale steps in to replace the flanker after his England call up to Steve Borthwick’s England squad. Jean-Luc du Preez retains the number 8 shirt with twin-brother Dan remaining on the side lines due to an ongoing hand injury.
Gus Warr continues to provide a platform for success at scrum-half and links up with centurion Rob du Preez, who is named at fly-half.
The ever-present Sam James retains the thirteen shirt with Ryan Mills picked at inside centre in the absence of Manu Tuilagi. The former Wasps centre is one of two changes in the Sharks’ back line.
Sanderson’s second change in the backs comes in the form of Tom Roebuck, who replaces Arron Reed on the wing after an impressive cameo in the Champions Cup. Tom O’Flaherty is named on the other wing, with exciting academy graduate Joe Carpenter at full-back.
On the bench, Ewan Ashman, Ross Harrison and Joe Jones are named as front-row replacements, with Alex Groves and Rouban Birch providing further cover for the forwards. Raffi Quirke, Luke James and Arron Reed cover the backs.
Sale Sharks Starting XV:
15. Joe Carpenter, 14. Tom Roebuck, 13. Sam James, 12. Ryan Mills, 11. Tom O’Flaherty, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Gus Warr; 1. Simon McIntyre, 2. Tommy Taylor, 3. Nick Schonert, 4. Cobus Wiese, 5. Josh Beaumont, 6. Jono Ross (c), 7. Sam Dugdale, 8. Jean-Luc du Preez
16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Ross Harrison, 18. Joe Jones, 19. Alex Groves, 20. Rouban Birch, 21. Raffi Quirke, 22. Luke James, 23. Arron Reed
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