Wil­liams given nod to make league bow

CEN­TRE DRAFTED IN TO FACE WAR­RIORS

The Chronicle - - Rugby Union -

JOHNNY Wil­liams makes his first Gal­lagher Pre­mier­ship ap­pear­ance for New­cas­tle Fal­cons as they travel to Worces­ter War­riors to­day.

The for­mer Lon­don Ir­ish cen­tre shone for the Fal­cons dur­ing pre­sea­son, scor­ing a try in the 42-17 away vic­tory over Euro­pean and Pro 14 cham­pi­ons Le­in­ster, and comes into the side in place of Josh Matavesi fol­low­ing the in­jury he picked up at Le­ices­ter Tigers last week­end.

Adam Rad­wan re­places the in­jured Vereniki Goneva on the right wing, New­cas­tle oth­er­wise un­changed from the side which scored five tries at Welford Road last time out.

Di­rec­tor of rugby Dean Richards said: “Our record at Sixways has not been great in re­cent sea­sons and it is a dif­fi­cult place to play but at the same time we should be go­ing there with con­fi­dence and with a view to tak­ing back some points.

“It is like ev­ery­thing – there is al­ways a point whereby a run of de­feats comes to an end and there is no rea­son why that should not be on Satur­day.

“It cer­tainly will not be easy be­cause Worces­ter are re­ally com­pet­i­tive and they take a bru­tal ap­proach to the game.

“You have to front up phys­i­cally to that threat. We are pre­pared for that ap­proach but are also look­ing to im­pose our own shape on to the game.” Af­ter los­ing to cham­pi­ons Sara­cens and a firedup Le­ices­ter Tigers team in their open­ing two games, Richards added: “Of the four halves of rugby we have played I would say we have had three de­cent ones and one ter­ri­ble one. “Against Sara­cens I felt we de­served to get some­thing out of it. There was a bla­tant knock-on at the end which cost us a bonus point and the chance to go on and win the game and at Le­ices­ter we should have had a penalty try.

“The ref­er­ee­ing de­part­ment is still a lit­tle bit at odds with us re­gard­ing that but a penalty try at that stage would have made it a four-point game, de­spite us hav­ing started so slowly dur­ing the first half.

“The sense of frus­tra­tion the play­ers feel at cer­tain key de­ci­sions not go­ing our way per­haps adds fuel to the fire in terms of re­ally want­ing that first win but you can­not look for the ref­er­ees to do it.

“You don’t al­ways get that bit of luck and we have to look to our­selves.

“When you look at that fix­ture list in the cold light of day it is pretty bru­tal - but that is what we are here for and what ex­cites us.

“It is the hard­est start to a sea­son we have had dur­ing my time at the club and we will take out of th­ese first six games what we take out of them be­fore re­group­ing and mov­ing for­ward.

“We are un­der no il­lu­sions as to how dif­fi­cult this first block is, but by the same to­ken they are all there for the tak­ing in our eyes.”

Johnny Wil­liams will make his Pre­mier­ship de­but for New­cas­tle to­day. Pic­tured left, Dean Richards

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