Aug 30, 2018
Preview: Newcastle Falcons (a)
Ground: Kingston Park
Premiership – 1997/98
Championship – 1992/93, 2012/13
National Cup – 1976, 1977, 2001, 2004
Melrose 7s – 2006
Middlesex 7s – 2007
Premiership Rugby 7s – 2011
Northumberland Senior Cup – 30 times dating from 1928 to 1994
Premiership: 4th (lost in play-offs to Exeter Chiefs)
European Challenge Cup: Semi-final (lost to Gloucester)
Anglo-Welsh: Semi-final (lost to Exeter Chiefs)
Premiership Top scorer: Vereniki Goneva (13)
Ins: Tom Arscott (Rouen), Pedro Bettencourt (Carcassonne), Connor Collett (North Habour), Guy Graham (Hawick), George McGuigan (Leicester Tigers), Logovi’i Mulipola (Leicester Tigers), Paul Mullen (Houston SaberCats), Nemani Nagua (Aurillac), Johnny Williams (London Irish)
Outs: Belisario Agulla (Hindu Club), Nick Civetta (Donacaster Knights), Cam Cowell (Doncaster Knights), Max Davies (Ealing Trailfinders), Ally Hogg (retired), Jake Ilnicki (Yorkshire Carnegie), Nili Latu (Hino Red Dolphins), Scott Lawson (retired), Maxime Mermoz (Toulouse), Evan Olmstead (Auckland), Harrison Orr (Western Force), Juan Pablo Socino (Edinburgh), Ben Sowrey (Wharfedale), D.T.H van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors), Rob Vickers (retired), Craig Willis (Ealing Trailfinders)
Backing up an impressive 2017/18 is Newcastle’s hardest challenge heading into the new Gallagher Premiership campaign. The Falcons surprised a lot of people last term, securing Champions Cup rugby with a fourth-placed finish in the league and reaching the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup. The North East outfit continued their momentum into pre-season seeing off European and Pro 14 champions Leinster 42-17 on their own patch. With exciting, experienced players such as Sinoti Sinoti and Vereniki Goneva in their ranks as well as youngsters Zach Kilbirige and Adam Radwan, Newcastle are a match for most on their day.
MEET THE DOR – DEAN RICHARDS
Ex-England international Richards took Newcastle to new heights last season, guiding the Falcons to their best finish in the Premiership since they won the competition in 1997/98. His team’s performances saw him crowned coach of the year and led to talk of him succeeding Eddie Jones as England boss which he later put to bed. Richards, who has previously coached at Leicester Tigers and Harlequins, was rewarded for Newcastle’s rise with a new contract in May.
ONE TO WATCH – VERENIKI GONEVA
The Premiership's 2017/18 player of the season, Goneva was the driving force behind Newcastle’s top four finish. The Fijian flyer crossed the whitewash 13 times in the league last season and at 34-years-old proved he still has what it takes to perform at the highest level. Formerly of Leicester Tigers, Goneva possesses ridiculous power and deceptive speed as well as a famous Alan Shearer celebration in his locker!
MEMORABLE FIXTURE – NEWCASTLE 7-29 SARACENS
Saturday 16th September 2017
Try: Goneva Con: Takulua
Tries: Wyles, Penalty Cons: Farrell (2) Pens: Farrell (5)
Saracens inflicted a first defeat of the season on Newcastle as they claimed victory in the second Premiership game to be staged in the United States.
Falcons opened the season with wins over Worcester Warriors and Sale Sharks but faced a Saracens side reinforced by British and Irish Lions Owen Farrell, Jamie George, Liam Williams plus Mako and Billy Vunipola.
Chris Wyles scored in his homeland for Sarries before Mark Wilson sent in Vereniki Goneva for a classic breakaway score and a one-point lead.
Farrell kicked five penalties thereafter, before a penalty try completed the win.
Newcastle: Hammersley; Sinoti, Harris, Matavesi, Goneva; Hodgson, Takulua; Vickers, Lawson, Welsh, Green, Robinson, Wilson, Welch (c), Latu. Replacements: S.Socino, Mavinga, Davison, Witty, Hogg, Stuart, J.Socino, Agulla. Sin-bin: Goneva (75)
Saracens: Goode; Williams, Bosch, Barritt (c), Wyles; Farrell, Spencer; M.Vunipola, George, Figallo, Isiekwe, Itoje, Rhodes, Burger, B.Vunipola. Replacements: Tolofua, Thompson-Stringer, Longbottom, Day, Wray, Wigglesworth, Tomkins, Maitland.
DID YOU KNOW?
Saracens have won their last 19 matches in all competitions against Newcastle.