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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Friday, May 17th 2019

Preview: Newcastle Falcons vs Bristol Bears

Bristol Bears sign off the 2018/19 Gallagher Premiership season with a trip to Kingston Park to take on Newcastle Falcons, with a place in next season's Heineken Champions Cup still to play for.

Pat Lam's side are guaranteed at least a ninth-place finish in their first season back in the top-flight, but know a bonus-point victory, together with other results going in their favour, could see them break into the top six.

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


Team news

Bristol Bears: 15. Charles Piutau; 14. Alapati Leiua, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Siale Piutau (co-capt), 11. Luke Daniels; 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Harry Randall; 1. James Lay, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. John Afoa, 4. Ed Holmes, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steve Luatua (co-capt), 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Nick Haining.

Replacements: 16. George Kloska, 17. Jake Woolmore, 18. Lewis Thiede, 19. Jack Lam, 20. George Smith, 21. Nic Stirzaker, 22. Tusi Pisi, 23. Mat Protheroe.

Newcastle Falcons: 15. Alex Tait, 14. Zach Kibirige, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Johnny Williams, 11. Adam Radwan, 10. Joel Hodgson, 9. Michael Young (c); 1. Sam Lockwood, 2. George McGuigan, 3. Logovi’i Mulipola, 4. Calum Green, 5. Sean Robinson, 6. Callum Chick, 7. Gary Graham, 8. Nemani Nagusa.

Replacements: 16. Santiago Socino, 17. Trevor Davison, 18. David Wilson, 19. Evan Olmstead, 20. Jamie Blamire, 21. Sam Stuart, 22. Toby Flood, 23. Josh Matavesi.


Last time out:

Bristol Bears 35-28 Newcastle Falcons - Sun, 30th Dec, 2018, Ashton Gate

Tom Pincus marked his first Gallagher Premiership start with the match-winning try as Bristol Bears came from behind to secure a pulsating 35-28 bonus-point victory over Newcastle Falcons at a fully-charged Ashton Gate on Sunday afternoon.

The wing touched down in the left-hand corner three minutes from time, as the hosts overturned a 10-20 half-time deficit to record an important win.

Harry Randall’s second-minute try had given Bristol the perfect start, before Newcastle hit back through Vereniki Goneva and Callum Chick to take a ten-point lead into the break.

Bristol hit their stride early in the second-half, with Charles Piutau and Luke Morahan scoring to edge the hosts back in front, before an electrifying score from Newcastle’s Adam Radwan, and a penalty apiece, made it 28-28 heading into the closing stages.

But on 76 minutes, a huge surge from Ed Holmes was rounded off by the predatory Pincus, whose maiden top-flight try sealed five crucial league points for Bristol.


Head-to-head:

Steven Luatua

Shortlisted for Gallagher Premiership player of the season, Steven Luatua has been a dominant force for Bristol Bears throughout the 2018/19 campaign, and will be looking to sign off in style at Kingston Park.

Callum Chick

Chick broke through into the Falcons side in 2016/17, winning the club’s academy player of the season award that season. Starting the first two Premiership games of 2017-18, an early-season injury restricted him to seven top-flight appearances.


Harry Randall

Having joined from Gloucester last summer, Harry Randall has enjoyed a fruitful breakthrough season in the Gallagher Premiership, making 17 appearances and scoring four tries.

A graduate of Hartpury college, Randall represented England through the age-groups, before playing for his country in the U20s Junior World Championships.

Michael Young

Young’s first season back at Kingston Park in 2016/17 brought 13 Premiership appearances, scoring a try in the home victory over Harlequins.

In 2017-18, Young delivered another supremely consistent campaign, making 12 Premiership starts including a try and a man-of-the-match performance in the away win at Gloucester.


Word from the camps:

Pat Lam

"We talk about, each week, celebrating the work we have done during the week.

"Certainly the boys have made it clear that they want to celebrate the work we have done all season and acknowledge that this is the final game we will all be together before the group is disbanded.

"We’re all proud, and as I said to the boys, they are the inaugural Bears – the first time we’ve had the Bears and they’ve done Bristol and the Bristolians proud."

Gary Graham

“It’s not a ‘nothing’ game for us, even though our league position has already been decided.

“We’ve not done ourselves justice this season, we’ve lost too many games and we’re treating Saturday just as seriously as we would do any other match.

“We’re not just going out there to chuck it around, we’ll be trying to impose our own game on Bristol and we’ve got work to do in showing our fans how much we care.”


Form guide:

Newcastle Falcons have slipped to four straight defeats since beating Sale Sharks 22-17 at St James’ Park in round 17 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby.

The Tynesiders’ only victory at Kingston Park in any competition in 2019 was against Worcester in round 15 of Premiership Rugby.

Bristol Bears are unbeaten in their last three matches since their defeat to Bath at Twickenham Stadium in round 18 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby.

Bristol won at Leicester in their most recent away game but have not won successive Premiership Rugby fixtures on the road since March 2008.

The Bears beat the Falcons 35-28 at Ashton Gate in round 11 and have not achieved a season’s double over Newcastle since 2007/08.

Bristol Bears: WWD
Newcastle Falcons: LLL


Weather forecast

Met Office says: 

Saturday will start cloudy with patchy rain, hill and coastal fog.

It should brighten up, although the east coast will stay murky, and showers are likely to break out elsewhere.

Maximum temperature 15 °C.


How to buy tickets:

If you're planning on going to Kingston Park to back the Bears, click here to purchase tickets from the Newcastle Falcons ticket office.

Supporters are urged to buy in advance to save on full match day prices and avoid any purchase queues on match-day. Tickets can be bought now online, in person from the Kingston Park Stadium Box Office or by calling the club’s Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060.