Newcastle Falcons team to face Saracens
Elliott Obatoyinbo returns to face his old club on Saturday when Newcastle Falcons make the Gallagher Premiership trip to Saracens.
The 24-year-old full-back has scored two tries in 12 games for the Falcons since his summer move from StoneX Stadium, and forms part of a Newcastle side showing four changes from last weekend’s game at Bristol Bears.
He replaces the injured Tom Penny, with Argentina international Matias Moroni restored to the midfield following the birth of his second son, Maiko. Countryman Mateo Carreras misses out with a head knock, meaning Ben Stevenson pushes out to the wing.
Samoan powerhouse Logovi’i Mulipola comes in at loose-head prop, with Philip van der Walt added to the back row in the only other change to the starting XV.
Hooker Ollie Fletcher could make his Gallagher Premiership debut from the bench having appeared five times for the club in cup competitions, with head coach Dave Walder keen for the Falcons to record their first victory at StoneX Stadium.
He said: “It’s about time we put that record to bed, but Saracens are a very well coached side and any game against them is always going to be a big test.
“Even with the guys they’ve got away on international duty they’re still a quality outfit, but we’ve had a good week in training and we’re going down there with every intention of getting the job done.”
Losing 30-12 at Ashton Gate last time out in what was their first Premiership game in six weeks, Walder said: “We’ll be far better for the hit-out we had at Bristol last week having not played for so long in the league, although we know we’ll need to be much sharper than we were that night.
“It’s very easy for me to come out during the week and say all the right things, but ultimately it’s about what you are able to do on game day.
“We’ll ensure we arrive down there in the best possible shape to take on the challenge, and that includes areas like our energy levels, having a positive attitude and backing up the things we’ve talked about internally.
“If we’re as sloppy as we were at Bristol we’ll find it very hard, but if we put in the effort and are accurate in our execution then we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
Missing two of last weekend’s back-line starters, the head coach added: “Tom Penny went off with an ankle injury following a tackle from behind so it doesn’t look great, but we’ll know more once we’ve had the scan results.
“Mateo Carreras came off during the game under the head injury protocols, so it’s just a case of looking after him. He’s been hammering on the door wanting to play but you can’t rush these things, and hopefully he’ll be back playing very soon.”
Newcastle Falcons team v Saracens (Saturday, 2.30pm, StoneX Stadium)
15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Matias Orlando, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, Michael Young (captain); 1 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Philip van der Walt, 7 Gary Graham, 8 Callum Chick.
Replacements: 16 Ollie Fletcher, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Freddie Lockwood, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Pete Lucock.
Not available for selection: Josh Barton, Phil Brantingham, Mateo Carreras, Sam Clark, Connor Collett, Ewan Greenlaw, Nathan Greenwood, Zach Kerr, Charlie Maddison, Chidera Obonna, Tom Penny, Guy Pepper, Vereimi Qorowale, Sean Robinson, Oliver Spencer, Alex Tait, George Wacokecoke, Will Welch.