Guinness Premiership
Newcastle look to upset Saints at home
February 27, 2009
Head Coach Steve Bates of England looks on during the international match between Italy 'A' and England Saxons at Stadio Aldo Campo on February 9, 2008 in Ragusa, Italy.
Steve Bates' Newcastle will be hoping to upset Northampton at home on Saturday © Getty Images

The Newcastle Falcons have made two changes to their team that travel to the Northampton Saints on Saturday.

Jon Golding replaces David Wilson at loose-head prop while Brent Wilson comes onto the openside to replace Ed Williamson who picked up a shoulder injury in their 13-9 win over Saracens.

Scrum half Micky Young and fullback Alex Tait both start the game after passing late fitness tests while on the bench there's a return for fit-again lock Mark Sorenson after recent hamstring troubles and the South African Russell Winter is also brought in to the match-day 22 as back row cover.

The Falcons' Director of Rugby, Steve Bates said: "Northampton are unbeaten at home in almost two years, but with three successive Guinness Premiership victories now under our belt we are going down there with plenty of confidence."

"We know it will be a tough game against a Saints team which has a formidable record at Franklin's Gardens, but with the weather easing up a bit and the chance to play on what is generally thought of as the best pitch in the Guinness Premiership, the boys are looking forward to what will hopefully be an open and exciting game."

The Falcons travel to Franklin's Gardens on the back of a three-match winning streak but come up against a home who have not lost a competitive home game since March 2007. Despite that hugely impressive record the Saints' Head Coach Jim Mallinder expects Newcastle to be a formidable proposition.

"Newcastle are in a good run of form and will pose us a lot of problems," said Maillinder. "They are a team who like to move the ball, as they showed in their last away match at Bristol, where they won a try-scoring bonus point and put in one of the best displays of the season. We will certainly be paying them plenty of respect.

"Although we didn't win at Adams Park there were plenty of positives to be taken from the game, not least the amount of commitment that the players showed. If we can repeat that and add the accuracy we were missing against Wasps then we can achieve another positive result at home.

"We're not feeling any pressure from our home record as we take every game as it comes. You have to always look forward to the next match, not any that have gone before. But we're making Franklin's Gardens a difficult place to play and the fans create an atmosphere that gives the team a boost. It would be fantastic if we could have another full house tomorrow."

Northampton: Bruce Reihana (capt); Paul Diggin, John Clarke, James Downey, Chris Ashton, Stephen Myler, Lee Dickson; Soane Tonga'uiha, Brett Sharman, Barry Stewart, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, Juandre Kruger, Courtney Lawes, Neil Best, Roger Wilson.

Replacements: Paul Shields, Tom Smith, Day, Mark Hopley, Alan Dickens, Barry Everitt, Chris Mayor

Newcastle: Alex Tait; Danny Williams, Jamie Noon, Tane Tu'ipulotu, John Rudd, Tom May, Micky Young; Jon Golding, Rob Vickers, Carl Hayman, Tim Swinson, Geoff Parling, Phil Dowson (capt), Brent Wilson, Adam Balding.

Replacements: Matt Thompson, David Wilson, Mark Sorenson, Russell Winter, Hall Charlton, Rob Miller, Tim Visser


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