Sale Sharks travel to Kingston Park for a Newcastle challenge

Sale Sharks travel to Kingston Park for a Newcastle challenge

Sale Sharks will travel to Kingston Park for Friday evening’s clash with Newcastle Falcons.

In Round 12, Sale enjoyed a bye while the Falcons were knocked over by London Irish on the latter’s home turf:


Sale showed some impressive form recently in the first round of the 2022-23 Champions Cup as they took Ulster apart at the AJ Bell. However, the following week, in Round 2, Sale found themselves dominated by Toulouse in France.


Newcastle’s Challenge Cup campaign kicked off to a stuttering start as they fell Connacht (22-8) and then Cardiff (47-10).    



Gary Graham makes his first appearance of the season for Newcastle Falcons on Friday night when they host northern rivals Sale Sharks.

The Scottish international joins a re-jigged back row which sees the return of Carl Fearns following the head knock he picked up three weeks ago at London Irish, with Callum Chick completing the trio. Guy Pepper misses out with the foot injury he sustained at home to Cardiff last weekend, with Sean Robinson also ruled out after leaving the field with a shoulder injury.

Hooker Jamie Blamire returns to the fray after recovering from the head knock he picked up away to Connacht two weeks ago - Trevor Davison switching to the tight-head side as the Falcons set out in search of their fifth consecutive home league win over Sale Sharks.

That run stretches back to May 2016, with Newcastle’s last home game of 2022 seeing the return of USA international Greg Peterson to the second row. He partners Sebastian de Chaves, who in the last round of Premiership games topped the league-wide stats for line-out steals and line-outs taken on his side’s own throw.

Brett Connon comes in at fly-half after kicking 100% at goal on his last three Premiership outings, with Tom Penny and Matias Moroni forming the centre partnership. Adam Radwan and Mateo Carreras line up on the wings, with head coach Dave Walder relishing the prospect of hosting their nearest Premiership rivals.

He said: “It’s an important game for lots of reasons, and hopefully we can get our biggest crowd of the season with it being a Friday night just before Christmas.

“Your turkey always tastes a bit nicer on the back of a win, but we know we’re up against a good side and that we’ll have to work hard for the result.”

Sale come into the game on the back of Sunday’s bruising loss at Toulouse, Walder saying: “We’re on a six-day turnaround and they’re on a five-dayer coming back from France, but Alex Sanderson has got them firing.

“They’ve got a good squad full of internationals, they compete in all areas and their stats across the board are pretty high. It’ll be a tough challenge, but it’s one we’re looking forward to.

“Both sides will be keen to bounce back after losses in Europe, but it’s our Christmas fixture and I’m sure it will be a great occasion with hopefully a decent turn-out. We’re all determined to put on a performance for the guys who come along to support us, and to give them a bit of an early Christmas present.”

The revolving door of player availability continues to turn, with Walder explaining: “Having the likes of Gary Graham back fit and available after such a long absence is a boost for us, albeit it tempered with the loss of Guy Pepper and Sean Robinson with what could be serious injuries picked up against Cardiff.

“We’ll know more about those in the coming days, but Gary is certainly someone who will roll up his sleeves and knuckle down for the physical battle.”

Determined to generate momentum into a league campaign which has seen the Falcons winning two of their last four, the head coach added: “It’s a big three-week block for us with having Bath away on New Year’s Eve and then Leicester at home the following weekend.

“Although they’re all tough games, we know there’s the opportunity for us to get points on the board and start pushing further up the league table.”

With the Sale fixture falling on Friday, Walder’s charges will at least be able to have some degree of normality around their Christmas this year.

“The players will have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off, and we’re not starting training on Boxing Day until the afternoon, just to allow guys to drive back if they’ve been visiting friends and family around the country,” he said.

“The guys are all sensible – they know not to go overboard, and we’ll have a good build-up going into the New Year’s Eve trip down to Bath.

“It’s always a difficult time as a sportsman, but the way the fixtures have fallen this year at least allows the lads to enjoy a little bit of family time, and to celebrate as best they can.”

Newcastle Falcons


Sale boss Alex Sanderson  has made five changes to his starting XV after a testing trip to Toulouse in the Heineken Champions Cup.

The Sharks will be looking to find their edge as they return to domestic competition following a heavy defeat in France with a string of Sharks regulars, including full-back Luke James, returning to action at Kingston Park.

Sanderson makes three changes to the pack ahead of Friday’s trip to the north east, as Ewan Ashman, Ben Curry and Daniel du Preez all return to freshen up the Sale forwards.

Scotland international Ashman comes in at hooker and lines up alongside Bevan Rodd and Nick Schonert at loosehead and tighthead respectively, with the front-row trio bolstered by the imposing presence of Jonny Hill and Cobus Wiese in the second row.

Ben Curry returns to captain the side, replacing twin brother Tom for Friday night’s fixture. The flanker lines up alongside Jono Ross who retains his place from the Champions Cup. The ever imposing Daniel du Preez returns at number 8 in place of Jean-Luc.

Gus Warr and Robert du Preez look to continue in their rich vein of form and will marshal the side at halfback this evening.

In the backs, Ryan Mills makes his Gallagher Premiership debut for Sale at outside centre and lines up alongside Sam Hill, who keeps his spot in the absence of Manu Tuilagi following the England international’s head injury eleven days ago.

Arron Reed continues to impress and is named on the wing alongside Tom O’Flaherty with Luke James making his long-awaited return at full-back.

On the bench, Akker van der Merwe, Ross Harrsson and Joe Jones provide plenty of bulk to cover the front-row with Josh Beaumont and Jean-Luc du Preez acting as further forward replacements.

In his penultimate game before retirement, Joe Simpson takes the 21 shirt to cover Gus Warr, with Tom Curtis and Byron McGuigan providing options for Sanderson in the backs.

Sale Sharks

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