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Match Preview – Bristol vs Newcastle

A positive coronavirus result for a Bears forward forced Pat Lam to make seven changes to the team that won at the Harlequins on Boxing Day

Last updated: 12/31/20 14:12 pm

Charles Piutau returns for the Bears

Charles Piutau is set for his first-team return when Bristol Bears start 2021 at home against the high-flying Newcastle Falcons on Friday.

The All Black is one of seven changes to Pat Lam’s men ahead of the Gallagher Premiership meeting at Ashton Gate (3pm).

Earlier this week, the Bears received their first positive result for a player since testing began in July. Although all other players on the squad received negative results, the club followed Covid-19 competition protocols to isolate all of the frontline players who were on the Matchday squad against the Harlequins.

As a result, Peter McCabe, George Kloska and Jake Armstrong form a new frontline, with all three ready for their first Premiership starts.

Meanwhile, Ed Holmes, Ben Earl, Dan Thomas, Siale Piutau and Max Malins all get weeks off.

Andy Uren is recalled in the background, while Joe Joyce and Jake Heenan are also named in the starting lineup.

Match Preview – Bristol vs Newcastle

Sinckler is on the bench for Bristol

Bristol is also boosted by the return of Luke Morahan as a substitute, while Academy hooker Aaron Thompson and Integrated Academy mainstay Andrew Turner are also named to the 23-man squad and could make debuts in competition.

Kyle Sinckler returned to camp early after compulsory time off for a Covid test and took part in Thursday’s captains race to be among the replacements.

Argentina center Matias Orlando will make his Falcons debut on Friday, while Philip Van Der Walt is also set for a first outing at number eight. Sam Stuart starts in the scrum half, with Toby Flood in the half flight.

Bristol: 15 Charles Piutau; 14 Siva Naulago, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Piers O’Conor, 11 Ioan Lloyd; 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren; 1 Peter McCabe, 2 George Kloska, 3 Jake Armstrong, 4 Dave Attwood, 5 Joe Joyce, 6 Steven Luatua (c), 7 Jake Heenan, 8 Nathan Hughes

Substitutes: 16 Aaron Thompson, 17 Andrew Turner, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 John Hawkins, 20 Fitz Harding, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 Luke Morahan

Newcastle: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Matias Orlando, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sam Stuart, 1 Trevor Davison, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Marco Fuser, 6 Sean Robinson, 7 Mark Wilson (c), 8 Philip van der Walt

Substitutes: 16 Charlie Maddison, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Connor Collett, 20 Josh Basham, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brett Connon, 23 Gareth Owen

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