Newcastle Falcons boss Alan Tait is looking to rejuvenate his side, for Sunday’s Aviva Premiership clash against high-flying Saracens, at Vicarage Road (kick-off 3pm). The Falcons make the long trip south eager to make it three premiership wins in a row and bounce back from the disappointment of last weekend’s LV= Cup Final defeat to Gloucester.
And Tait has handed new signing Rikki Sheriffe a start on the wing as the former Bradford Bulls wing ace make his premiership bow in the colours of the Falcons.
Speaking pitch side at a sun-drenched Kingston Park, Tait said: “These lads have done really well winning three games on the trot before the cup final and there’s a really decent side starting to form at the club. The lads had an off day last week and hopefully they can get back on the rails again this Sunday.”
The previous meeting between the two sides was back in October when the Falcons suffered the heart-break of conceding a last gasp penalty to lose the match 15-13 at Kingston Park.
Tait admits it was a bitter pill to swallow, saying: “It was probably the most disappointing game I’ve experienced at Kingston Park. It was a tough one to take after playing really well.
“Everything has changed now. The ground has changed, the pitches are firm and all these guys can come into their own now.
“It will take a lot of effort and energy from our guys on Sunday.”
Sarries sit handsomely in second position in the Aviva Premiership table, just two points behind leaders Leicester as they challenge for the premiership crown. Tait acknowledges the qualities possessed by the men from Vicarage Road.
“The’yre a good side and they’ve gone back to basics. They don’t play much rugby in their own half and they are a typical strong side.
“They put a lot of pressure on you and their back row is probably one of the best back rows in the country. I think the back row in modern rugby dictates things out there.
“It’s going to be a tough challenge for our lads but we’ve got to go down there and I’m sure if we play the right tactics and the right game we can be more than a match for them,” he said.
Tait concluded by talking about Newcastle’s ambitions in the transfer market as the club goes in search of a top-class recruit. And Tait underlined the difficulties faced by many clubs in the same position as the Falcons looking to strengthen their set-up.
“It’s an interesting market and there’s quite a few of the guys signed up now in terms of contract renewals. There are a couple of key areas where we’re looking to strengthen.
“We are looking for a top-class back to make a difference but they’re not easy to get. I have got a decent budget for a good back.
“There’s a lot of clubs after key players and the French clubs seem to scupper us all. We’ll just have to wait and see and there are a couple of players that I’m talking to at the moment,” said Tait.
15 Tom Catterick
14 Alex Tait
13 Luke Eves
12 James Fitzpatrick
11 Rikki Sheriffe
10 Jimmy Gopperth
9 Chris Pilgrim
1 Jon Golding
2 Matt Thompson
3 James Hall
4 James Hudson
5 Andrew VD Heijden
6 Tim Swinson
7 Will Welch
8 Ally Hogg
16 Rob Vickers
17 Grant Shiells
18 Kieran Brookes
19 Mark Wilson
20 Alex Gray
21 Micky Young
22 Tane Tu’ipulotu
23 Joel Hodgson