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Falcons looking to complete Premiership double against Sale
MARK WILSON believes ball retention will be the key as Newcastle Falcons look to complete their first double of the season when they entertain Sale Sharks tomorrow.
Falcons ground out a 15-14 victory over Sale when the two sides met in Salford in September, but Dean Richards' side are on a five-game Premiership losing run as they prepare for the rematch at Kingston Park.
Their latest defeat was a 17-12 reverse to London Wasps seven days ago, and while Falcons rarely looked like winning on their final outing of 2013, they at least ended their lengthy try drought thanks to scores from Noah Cato and Will Welch.
With Sale just two places above Newcastle in the table, tomorrow's game should give the hosts another opportunity to be more expansive, and Wilson expects the possession statistics to be a major influence on the final outcome.
“We did a job on them at their place earlier on in the season, and we'll be looking to have more possession this time around as we look for the win,” said the Falcons back row. “Sale will be another difficult test, but it's one we've been looking forward to all week.
“It will be a good battle for the back row against the likes of Dan Braid and David Seymour, who are both very good over the ball. They've also got James Gaskell, who is very athletic, but looking at that, we've got our own strengths in the back row and it's going to be a good duel.”
Tomorrow's game will see new signing Sinoti Sinoti make his Falcons debut despite the Samoan winger only training with his team-mates for the first time on Monday morning.
The 28-year-old winger boasts extensive experience having previously played in the Top 14 and Heineken Cup, and should add some much-needed firepower to a backline that has struggled with ball in hand on a number of occasions this season.
Sinoti's inclusion is one of six changes to the side that lost to Wasps, with Mike Blair, Danny Barnes and Adam Powell also returning to a much-changed backline. Blair is preferred to Chris Pilgrim at centre-half, with Barnes and Powell forming a new partnership in the centre.
Line-out specialist Scott MacLeod comes in for his first start since November's LV=Cup game with London Irish, while Andy Saull replaces Welch in the back row.
“Sale are a very good side and they thoroughly deserve to be where they are in the table,” said Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards. “They have some quality individuals in their ranks that can influence games so we will have to be on top of our game if we are to get the result that we want.”
NEWCASTLE FALCONS: Tait, Cato, Barnes, Powell, Sinoti, Godman, Blair; Vickers, Lawson, Brookes, del Fava, MacLeod, M Wilson, Saull, Hogg.
Replacements: McGuigan, Montanella, Tomaszczyk, Tomes, R Mayhew, Fury, Clegg, Fitzpatrick.
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