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Newcastle v Saracens: Teams
At Kingston Park, Sunday October 4, kick-off 3pm
Newcastle welcome back club captain Carl Hayman for Sunday's visit of leaders Saracens to Kingston Park.
The prop missed last Friday's draw with Harlequins but returns to the pack to play alongside Jon Golding and Matt Thompson in the front row.
The only other change for the Falcons sees Ed Williamson slide back into the back row following a bout of gastroenteritis.
Newcastle director of rugby Steve Bates knows his side, who have yet to taste victory this season following three draws and a loss, face a tough task this weekend against the early pacesetters in the Guinness Premiership.
"Their record this season speaks for itself, and we know what sort of a test we are in for this weekend," he said.
"Saracens have a very powerful pack and an excellent kick-chase game, so there will be a massive emphasis on playing in the right areas and not allowing them to punish us by kicking penalties.
"We have an enormous amount of respect for what they have done so far this season, but also a belief in our own ability to get the job done with the quality of personnel we have within our squad."
Sarries head north looking to maintain their 100 percent start to the domestic season, though they will have to do so without Steve Borthwick.
The England captain suffered an eye injury in the 19-16 victory over last week's Gloucester. He is expected to be sidelined for two-to-four weeks.
Tom Ryder replaces Borthwick at lock behind an all-Italian front row of Matias Aguero, Fabio Ongaro and Carlos Nieto.
Fly-half Derick Hougaard and winger Richard Hauhgton both start after missing the opening games of the new campaign through injury.
Meanwhile on the bench, scrum-half Kevin Barrett is named amongst the replacements as New Zealander Justin Marshall is ruled out with a knock.
Despite managing four wins from four, Saracens coach Mark McCall knows the Falcons will be no pushovers in front of their own spectators.
"It's a very tough place to go to and in the dressing room after Sunday's game, Hugh Vyvyan reminded the players that in his time at the club, Saracens have never won at Newcastle," he said.
"After our start to the season, there is a good confidence in the squad but we are not getting carried away.
"This is a new squad and we are building from the bottom and while we are enjoying the wins, we know there is still a long way to go yet."
Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Charlie Amesbury, 13 Rob Vickerman, 12 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Micky Young, 8 Filipo Levi, 7 Brent Wilson, 6 Ed Williamson, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 James Hudson, 3 Carl Hayman (captain), 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Jon Golding.
Replacements: 16 Rob Vickers, 17 Micky Ward, 18 Laurence Ovens, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Adam Balding, 21 Hall Charlton, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Gcobani Bobo.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Richard Haughton, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Derick Hougaard, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Justin Melck, 6 Wikus van Heerden(c), 5 Hugh Vyvyan, 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Richard Skuse, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Michael Owen, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Glen Jackson, 23 Michael Horak.
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|Sunday 28th December|
|14:30||Gloucester vs Wasps|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:45||Northampton vs Newcastle Falcons|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Saracens vs London Irish|
|16:30||Exeter vs Gloucester|
|Sunday 4th January|
|14:00||Wasps vs Sale|
|14:00||Leicester Tigers vs Bath|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Harlequins|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Saracens|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:00||Sale vs Northampton|
|15:00||Bath vs Wasps|
|15:15||Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Newcastle Falcons vs London Welsh|
|15:00||London Irish vs Exeter|
|Saturday 14th February|
|15:00||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|15:00||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Northampton vs London Irish|
|Sunday 15th February|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|15:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|Friday 20th February|
|20:00||Newcastle vs Wasps|
|Saturday 21st February|
|14:00||Sale vs Saracens|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Exeter|
|15:00||London Irish vs Leicester|
|15:00||Bath vs Northampton|
|15:00||Gloucester vs London Welsh|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com