MICHAEL YOUNG will make his first appearance of the Gallagher Premiership season when Newcastle Falcons travel to northern rivals Sale Sharks tomorrow afternoon.

Young made a successful return from injury in Monday’s Premiership Rugby Shield game against Northampton, leaving the replacements’ bench to score a try in a 41-15 win.

The scrum-half’s promotion to the starting XV is the only change to the Falcons side that took a bonus point from last week’s visit of Wasps, with Newcastle looking to repeat the one-point victory they achieved at Sale last season.

Kyle Cooper, David Wilson and Ryan Burrows return to the bench after also showing up well in Monday’s second-string game, and director of rugby Dean Richards is expecting a physical test against a Sharks side that currently sit a place below Falcons at the foot of the table.

“The AJ Bell is not an easy place to go, and Sale are a good team,” said Richards. “We’re under absolutely no illusions as to exactly what it will take to win over there. We’ve got to be at our best, and even then it’s going to be a really hard battle.”

Having claimed losing bonus points against Exeter and Wasps in the last fortnight, Richards added: “Despite all the frustration at narrowly missing out on a couple of close games, we feel like we’re playing decent rugby. We’re not that far away and it’s just a case of being able to nail these results.

“We didn’t get the victory we felt we should have last week, but, having said that, we’ve gone through the game and analysed the areas where we feel we can make the difference.

“In a lot of cases, it’s just about having that little bit more accuracy, but we’re playing good enough rugby to win these games if we can just make those adjustments.

“We’re certainly creating the opportunities, and perhaps there’s an element of losing a lot of experience from the squad which we had last season. We’ll get that experience as the season goes on, and you have to accept it’s a learning curve for some of our guys which will improve with a little time.”

Newcastle Falcons (vs Sale Sharks): Hammersley, Goneva, Harris, Williams, Sinoti, Flood, Young; Brocklebank, McGuigan, Mulipola, Green, Cavubati, Graham, Welch, M Wilson.

Replacements: Cooper, Mavinga, D Wilson, Witty, Burrows, Takulua, Hodgson, Penny.