Newcastle Falcons team to face Harlequins

Newcastle Falcons team to face Harlequins

Argentina trio Mateo Carreras, Matias Moroni and Pedro Rubiolo are all thrust straight into Gallagher Premiership duty for Newcastle Falcons, starting in Saturday’s trip to Harlequins.

Countryman Eduardo Bello is on the bench for the 3pm kick-off at the Twickenham Stoop as he prepares to make his club debut, with the Falcons showing eight changes from the side which took a bonus point at home to Northampton last weekend.

Carreras starts on the left wing after shining on the world stage over the past two months, with fellow Pumas star Moroni returning at outside centre.

Rory Jennings slides across to fly-half with Matias Orlando filling the gap at inside centre – Jennings’ former London Irish team-mate Hugh O’Sullivan partnering him in the half-backs.

Bryan Byrne makes his first league start at hooker after coming on from the bench last weekend, with Rubiolo and Kiran McDonald forming a new-look second-row pairing.

Josh Bainbridge is poised to make his Gallagher Premiership debut from the bench, with George Wacokecoke in line for his first league appearance in almost a year after recovering from a broken leg.

Falcons head coach Alex Codling, a former Harlequins player and coach, said: “The Stoop holds special memories for me and it will be great to go back there with this Newcastle team.

“Harlequins will offer a very similar challenge to Northampton in many ways because they move the ball to wide areas and have a strong set piece. Last Sunday was a good dress rehearsal, and now we’ve just got to make sure we learn from our mistakes.

“We made some good in-roads in and around Northampton’s 22 but just couldn’t get over the gain line, and we lost the ball too many times in contact. Our approach work was really positive but ultimately you’ve got to be clinical, and that was the difference.”

Welcome back his Pumas quartet, Codling added: “We’re going to Harlequins with a good week’s work behind us, and with a really positive mind-set.

“Having the four Argentina guys back from France is a big boost for the group because they’re great players and good people.

“We’ve all been immensely proud watching them on the TV and seeing them get to a World Cup semi-final, and you could see from our first meeting on Tuesday morning what a positive influence they are.

“Obviously we have a duty of care to all our players and we will manage how much and how often they play over the next few months, but they were keen and happy to get involved straightaway for us this weekend down at Quins.

“They’re all really good people who love this club, and they bring an incredible warmth as characters. You can feel the energy with the mind-set they’ve got, and the quality they have on the pitch speaks for itself. I’m really looking forward to seeing them play, and I’m sure our supporters are too.”

Preparing to start at fly-half, Jennings highlighted the Falcons’ work rate as a positive from the early part of the season, saying: “The lads are willing to work for each other, and you can see that with the way everyone is getting off the floor and defending with real heart.

“Of course there are a few areas where we can switch on and improve, and getting the Argentina boys back will be a big boost. Everyone saw during the Rugby World Cup what quality those guys have, and it will be great to see them out there in a Newcastle shirt.

“Quins like to play with the ball in hand, they’ve got some really expansive players and we’re expecting a game with an attacking brand of rugby. Obviously the conditions could have a say in that if the weather forecast is to be believed, but we’re going down there with a positive mind-set looking to play good rugby in the right areas.”

Newcastle Falcons team v Harlequins (Saturday, 3pm, Twickenham Stoop)


15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Matias Orlando, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Rory Jennings, 9 Hugh O’Sullivan; 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Bryan Byrne, 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Pedro Rubiolo, 5 Kiran McDonald, 6 Sam Cross, 7 Guy Pepper, 8 Callum Chick (captain).

Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Phil Brantingham, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 John Hawkins, 20 Josh Bainbridge, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Brett Connon, 23 George Wacokecoke.

Not available for selection: Josh Barton, Nathan Greenwood, Ollie Leatherbarrow, Charlie Maddison, Richard Palframan, Tom Penny, Adam Scott, Marcus Tiffen.

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