Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Set for Big One with Debut at St James' THE PREVIEW: Newcastle Falcons V Northampton Saints, St James' Park 5.30

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Set for Big One with Debut at St James' THE PREVIEW: Newcastle Falcons V Northampton Saints, St James' Park 5.30

Article excerpt

NEWCASTLE Falcons have named their team for The Big One at St James' Park today as they take on Northampton Saints at the home of Newcastle United.

A club-record home crowd is already assured with more than 27,000 tickets sold for the 5.30pm kick-off, Newcastle native Will Welch captaining the Falcons at a stadium he used to frequent as a child.

"My dad had two season tickets for Newcastle United when I was growing up, so I used to go on the Gallowgate End fairly regularly," said Welch, who became the Falcons' youngest ever club captain six seasons ago.

"It's an amazing stadium and it will be great to see so many Falcons fans there on Saturday.

"The people in our region have really backed us with the way they've snapped up the tickets and it should be a great day."

Welch is joined in the back row by Canadian international Evan Olmstead and Tonga's most-capped player Nili Latu, who played at St James' Park during the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Fly-half Toby Flood starts at the stadium where he was a Newcastle United ball-boy in his youth, saying: "It's an iconic venue with an incredible atmosphere and it's great the Falcons are taking a game there.

"Ultimately it's an Aviva Premiership match like any other so the guys need to try and not be distracted by all the other stuff going on around it, but a big crowd really getting behind the team will make it a special occasion.

"We have 50 Premiership points on the board with five rounds to go, plus a home quarter-final in Europe, we can just have a swing at it and see where it takes us. That's a great position to be in and reflects an enormous amount of hard work from top to bottom within the club."

Geordie prop Trevor Davison starts on the tight-head side with Jon Welsh having picked up an injury in the Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-final at Exeter, Kyle Cooper aiming to continue his free-scoring form at hooker after dotting down five tries in his last six games. …

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