Saracens v Falcons: Teams
At Vicarage Road, Sunday September 21, KO 3pm
Last Updated: 20/09/08 1:20pm
Ward: Starting at prop
Newcastle have made three changes from their previous match as they travel to Vicarage Road to take on Saracens on Sunday.
Micky Ward comes in to the side at loosehead prop as the Falcons look to build on last weekend's 32-22 victory over Northampton, with Joe McDonnell ruled out by a pelvis injury.
In the second row Andy Perry takes the place of Andy Buist, who missed much of this week's training with a dislocated thumb, while Tom May returns to the team after a back spasm ruled him out of last Sunday's encounter.
Head coach Steve Bates wants his side to learn from their mistakes against Northampton and put that into practice on Sunday.
"It was a good result and something we felt we were capable of doing, but there were lots of areas for improvement which we have been working on during this week," he said.
"We were a bit concerned about some of our decision making at the back and the execution of our kicking game from that area, which was nowhere near as precise as we would like.
"But in the second half we played a much more sensible tactical game which we will be looking to repeat down at Vicarage Road."
Meanwhile, Saracens director of rugby Eddie Jones has named an unchanged team.
It will be Saracens first outing of the season at Vicarage Road and it's a match that Jones is looking forward to as well as coming up against the fit-again Jonny Wilkinson having coached against him many times on the international scene.
"I've got a tremendous amount of respect for Jonny Wilkinson and it's good to see him back playing rugby again," said Jones.
"He's a very important player and when he plays well, Newcastle play well. He is one of the most dedicated and professional players we have seen and he is still the predominant number ten in England.
"But to play well he needs his forward pack to give him good ball and the challenge for us on Sunday will be to compete up front and stop them doing that."
Jones has selected the same 22 that lost to a last second Charlie Hodgson drop goal at Sale Sharks last Friday and despite the defeat, he was pleased with the display.
"It's a reflection of the performance at Sale that we've not made any changes this week," he explained.
"The commitment and effort they showed was first class - even if the result was second class. If we continue to develop and work as hard as that, the results will come."
The game also sees a first outing for Saracens and England captain Steve Borthwick at Vicarage Road with former Wales captain Michael Owen also getting a home debut.
"It's going to be a proud moment for me to lead the team out at Vicarage Road for the first time," explained Borthwick.
"All of the players have been looking forward to playing at home for the first time and there is a real sense of anticipation around the squad.
"It's going to be a very tough game and Newcastle proved last week against Northampton that if you give them opportunities, they will score points. That is something we will have to work very hard at stopping."
Saracens: 15 Richard Haughton, 14 Rodd Penney, 13 Kevin Sorrell, 12 Adam Powell, 11 Kameli Ratuvou, 10 Glen Jackson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Michael Owen, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Chris Jack, 5 Hugh Vyvyan, 4 Steve Borthwick, 3 Cencus Johnston, 2 Fabio Ongaro,1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Matt Cairns, 17 Cobus Visagie, 18 Kris Chesney, 19 Ben Skirving, 20 Moses Rauluni, 21 Gordon Ross, 22 Chris Wyles.
Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Tom May, 13 Jamie Noon, 12 Spencer Davey, 11 John Rudd, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 James Grindal, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Ed Williamson, 6 Adam Balding, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Andy Perry, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Andy Long, 1 Micky Ward.
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 Jon Golding, 18 Tim Swinson, 19 Andy Buist, 20 Hall Charlton, 21 Ollie Phillips, 22 Rory Clegg.
Fri 24th Apr
Bath43 - 18London Irish
Sat 25th Apr
Sale Sharks23 - 25Harlequins
Gloucester42 - 40Newcastle Falcons
Leicester Tigers38 - 17London Welsh
Northampton25 - 20Saracens
Sun 26th Apr
Wasps36 - 29Exeter
Fri 8th May
Harlequins0 - 0Bath
Sat 9th May
Sale Sharks0 - 0Newcastle Falcons
Gloucester0 - 0London Irish
Northampton0 - 0London Welsh
Wasps0 - 0Leicester Tigers
Sun 10th May
Saracens0 - 0Exeter
Sat 16th May
Bath0 - 0Gloucester
Exeter0 - 0Sale Sharks
Leicester Tigers0 - 0Northampton
London Irish0 - 0Wasps
London Welsh0 - 0Saracens
Newcastle Falcons0 - 0Harlequins