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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Friday, December 28th 2018

Preview: Bristol Bears vs Newcastle Falcons

Bristol Bears welcome Newcastle Falcons to Ashton Gate on Sunday for the final Gallagher Premiership fixture of 2018. 

Both sides suffered defeats last weekend, with Bristol beaten at Sale Sharks and Newcastle edged out by Gloucester at Kingston Park. And with a bumper crowd expected in BS3, it promises to be a mouthwatering encounter.

Here's everything you need to know about Sunday's clash.


Team news

Bristol Bears: 15. Charles Piutau; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Will Hurrell, 12. Siale Piutau (co-capt), 11. Tom Pincus; 10. Ian Madigan 9. Harry Randall; 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. John Afoa, 4. Chris Vui, 5. Aly Muldowney, 6. Steve Luatua, 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Jordan Crane (co-capt).

Replacements: 16. Nick Fenton-Wells, 17. Jake Woolmore, 18. Lewis Thiede, 19. Ed Holmes, 20. George Smith, 21. Andy Uren, 22. Callum Sheedy, 23. Piers O’Conor.

Newcastle Falcons: 15. Simon Hammersley, 14. Vereniki Goneva, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Josh Matavesi, 11. Adam Radwan, 10. Toby Flood, 9. Michael Young; 1. Sami Mavinga, 2. George McGuigan, 3. Logovi’i Mulipola, 4. Calum Green, 5. Tevita Cavubati, 6. Will Welch (captain), 7. John Hardie, 8. Callum Chick.

Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Adam Brocklebank, 18. David Wilson, 19. Andrew Davidson, 20. Gary Graham, 21. Sonatane Takulua, 22. Brett Connon, 23. Tom Arscott.


Last time out:

Bristol Rugby 27-39 Newcastle Falcons - Sat, 6th May 2017, Ashton Gate

Bristol Rugby signed off their Aviva Premiership campaign with a 27-39 defeat to Newcastle Falcons at Ashton Gate on Saturday.

Mark Tainton’s side claimed a try bonus-point thanks to scores from Jamal Ford-Robinson, Jack O’Connell, Jack Tovey and Mitch Eadie, while Gavin Henson kicked a penalty and Jason Woodward added two conversions. 

But the hosts were outscored by five tries to four as Vereneki Goneva (2), Chris Harris, Mark Wilson and Marcus Watson sealed a bonus-point win for the Falcons.

Sonatane Takulua added four conversions and two penalties for a 14-point haul.


Head-to-head:

Ian Madigan

Madigan is another player to have started in all three of Bristol Bears wins in the Gallagher Premiership this season, with his pin-point goal-kicking against Bath and Harlequins going a long way to sealing victory. 

The Irish number ten goes head-to-head with another international fly-half in Newcastle's Toby Flood, who played 60 times for England. 

Toby Flood

Falcons Academy graduate Toby Flood returned for a second spell at Newcastle in the summer of 2017, having spent three seasons at French giants Toulouse.

At international level, Flood played for England Under-20s, and made 60 full international appearances, including the 2007 Rugby World Cup final, before his move to France in 2014 made him ineligible for further selection.


Jordan Crane

The experienced number eight is yet to finish on the losing side in the Gallagher Premiership this season, playing starring roles against Bath, Harlequins and Leicester Tigers at Ashton Gate. 

Crane will co-captain the side alongside Siale Piutau on Sunday, and goes head-to-head with England international, Mark Wilson, who had an impressive autumn for Eddie Jones' side. 

Mark Wilson

Back-row forward, Wilson made his England debut during the 2018 summer tour of South Africa, before putting in a series of dominant displays during the Autumn internationals. 

Wilson can play across the back-row and was a central part of Newcastle's impressive 2017/18 campaign, in which they finished fourth to secure a play-off place.


Word from the camps:

Pat Lam

"It’s always great to have our supporters and it looks like a big crowd and that makes the whole atmosphere, but that just puts more responsibility on us now to make sure we play as a team, and bring our game, and we transfer what we trained, because when we don’t, we saw what happened last week.

"We’re all hurting from that, but that’s the responsibility on us to bring that. There’s no fear about what we have to do, it’s about enjoying and getting edited about what we have to do, and I have no doubt we’ll see a much better performance this week."


Form guide:

Bristol Bears only victory in the last six rounds of Gallagher Premiership Rugby was 41-10 against Leicester at Ashton Gate on December 1st. Bristol’s home record in Premiership Rugby this season is won three lost two.

Newcastle Falcons have lost their last three matches in all tournaments since beating Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens in round nine of Gallagher Premiership Rugby. The Falcons have tallied more league points on their travels in Premiership Rugby this season than they have at home.

Newcastle have lost just one of their last six encounters with Bristol: 14-19 at Kingston Park in the RFU Championship in April 2013. Newcastle won 39-27 on their only previous visit to Ashton Gate in May 2017.

Bristol Bears: LWL
Newcastle Falcons: LLL


Weather forecast

Met Office says: 

Sunday will be cloudy and damp, with a lot of low cloud, mist and hill fog around. Very mild. Maximum temperature 11 °C.


How to buy tickets:

Tickets are available to members to purchase online now by clicking here, or via supporter services on 0117 963 0600.


Matchday sponsor:


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