Newcastle Falcons 57 - 0 Cardiff Blues
Sat 11 November 17:00 Kingston Park Att: 3,746 Ref: Anthony Woodthorpe Anglo Welsh Cup

Preview: Newcastle Falcons v Cardiff Blues

Fri 10 Nov 2017 14:57 Preview: Newcastle Falcons v Cardiff Blues
Danny Wilson’s side takes a two-week break from European and Guinness PRO14 action, with Richard Hodges set to take control for the campaign.

The young Blues side will hope to continue the recent impressive form, on both domestic and European fronts, which has seen Wales’ Capital Region pick up five wins in the past seven fixtures.

Experienced lock, George Earle, will lead the side at Kingston Park, and is partnered with James Down in the boiler room.

Further experience is added in the pack through the inclusion of Georgian international, Anton Peikrishvili, who lines-up alongside Brad Thyer and Ethan Lewis in the front row. 

Back row trio Shane Lewis-Hughes, Ben White and Sion Bennett complete the pack.

The familiar Wales U20 partnership of Dane Blacker and Ben Jones combine at half-back, with Jack Roberts returns to partner Harri Millard in the centre, having recovered from an injury suffered in September’s defeat to Munster.

Cardiff Blues’ record try scorer, Tom James, is named on the wing, with academy members, Owen Lane and Rhun Williams, joining the Wales international to complete the backline.

On the bench, Dan Fish makes his long-awaited return from injury and edges closer to his 100th appearance for the region, while Rhys Carre, Ben Murphy, Callum Bradbury and Ben Thomas could make their first appearances of the season.

Falcons began their Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign last week, securing a stunning 53-41 bonus point victory over Wasps at Ricoh Arena.

Dean Richards’ side will be looking to gain further momentum on Saturday, ahead of a return to Coventry next week for the Aviva Premiership clash against Dai Young’s side.

They currently sit seventh in the Premiership table and are involved in a tight battle for the end-of-season play-offs, with only a single point separating Newcastle and third place Leicester Tigers.

Cardiff Blues’ Roberts will come up against former Leicester Tigers team-mate, Maxime Mermoz, who combines with former Ospreys star, Josh Matavesi, in an all-international centre partnership for the home side.

Joel Hodgson is handed the number 10 jersey, having made impact during his 20-minute cameo against Wasps last week, scoring a try and two conversions, with Alex Tait and Sinoti Sinoti the other changes made amongst the backline.

Scottish international pair, Scott Lawson and Jon Welsh, are both included in the front row alongside Sami Mavinga, who joined Falcons from Lyon over the summer. 

A new second row combination sees Calum Green and Sean Robinson replacing Will Witty and Andrew Davidson, while Mark Wilson and Will Welch are added to the back-row, with the latter named captain.

What They Said

Richard Hodges believes the progress of academy products such as Seb Davies, Rhun Williams, Jarrod Evans and Corey Domachowski over the past year should be a motivation for the next generation of stars who feature at Kingston Park on Saturday.

"It's tough but this is a great competition to learn about the next tier of boys coming through," said Hodges. 

"You look at the Blues so far this year and the amount of youngsters having opportunities, we have been surprised by how well they have adapted to that opportunity and taken it. 

"You look at the likes of Jarrod, Seb, Rhun, Corey Dom, Azza and they have done really well. Now it's unearthing the next ones, Owen Lane, Ben Jones, Shane Lewis-Hughes . It's a big weekend for people like that.

The whole of our academy is in for these two weeks - not all of them will play but it is also about exposing them to a normal training week as a professional.

"For some of them it's their first time in the building and then at the same time there's some experienced players who haven't had as much rugby as they would have wished.

"We have a good mixture ourselves of youth and experience, quite a few boys who have played some Premiership and B&I Cup rugby, have been waiting for an opportunity and want to get hold of a shirt and a game when we go back to PRO14."

One player that is relishing the opportunity to make his mark on Saturday is back row, Sion Bennett, who believes the Anglo-Welsh Cup is a perfect platform to put hands up for a place in future domestic and European fixtures.

Bennett said: "I am raring to go. This year I haven't played as much, having being quite fortunate to play quite a few games at the end of last year, which went well for me. I want to keep showing what I've got and what I can give to the team.

"Confidence is good. I think we're expecting them to go pretty strong and the boys are looking forward to show what we've got against a high quality side.

"For some boys it's a stepping stone in the sense that the quality is higher than competitions like the British and Irish Cup.

"It will be good for boys to step up and experience that intensity, physicality and skill level.

"It's a good opportunity for young guys, but also senior players who haven't had as much game time as they would've liked.

"I think if you're worried about it, you're probably in the wrong job. The boys are really excited and looking forward to the challenge."


Newcastle Falcons: Alex Tait; Adam Radwan, Maxime Mermoz, Josh Matavesi, Sinoti Sinoti; Joel Hodgson, Michael Young; Sami Mavinga, Scott Lawson, Jon Welsh, Calum Green, Sean Robinson, Mark Wilson, Will Welch (c), Ryan Burrows

Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Rob Vickers, Scott Wilson, Will Witty, Gary Graham, Sam Stuart, Belisario Agulla, Juan Pablo Socino

Cardiff Blues: Rhun Williams; Owen Lane, Jack Roberts, Harri Millard, Tom James; Ben Jones, Dane Blacker; Brad Thyer, Ethan Lewis, Anton Peikrishvili, George Earle (c), James Down, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Ben White, Sion Bennett

Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Rhys Carre, Keiron Assiratti, Ben Murphy, Callum Bradbury, Lewis Jones, Ben Thomas, Dan Fish