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No turf war, but Falcons will have to adapt game.

Byline: Mark Smith Twitter: @markismith50 Facebook: www.facebook.com/chroniclerugby

HEAD coach John Wells says Newcastle Falcons will have to make minor adjustments to their attacking game in Gloucester today due to the state of the Kingsholm pitch but does not expect it to be a mudbath.

Gloucester's recent home games have seen soft and muddy surfaces dictating scrappy encounters for the Premiership's eighth-placed side, whose new owner is known to be mulling over the possibility of installing a synthetic pitch.

The Falcons have won their last six home games on Kingston Park's plastic surface, Wells admitting they may have to adjust their offensive radar as they return to natural grass, He said: "It would be wrong and naive of us to think we can go down there and play everything exactly the same as we do at Kingston Park.

"Yet the other side of it is that it has been a dry week this week and as muddy as Gloucester's pitch might have been in recent months I do expect it will have dried out a fair bit.

"Unless we have a few showers between now and kick-off it will have firmed up somewhatand I still believe it will be a relatively fast track. That will suit us because we like to play the game at pace and to be fair to Gloucester you could apply the same label to them.

"They have real gas in their team and a lot of handy guys.

"They will be comfortable whether it is a mud pit or a hard track and we will just have to see on the day."

Newcastle make four changes to the side which beat Northampton 26-25 on Sunday, Giamba Venditti replacing Alex Tait on the wing while Tane Takulua rotates in for Michael Young at scrumhalf.

In the pack there are two personnel changes as locks Mouritz Botha and Sean Robinson miss out, the latter as a precaution after suffering a strain against Northampton.

Mark Wilson moves forward as Richard Mayhew comes in, Wilson partnering Calum Green in the engine room. Crediting his side for coming through the Saints game despite a welter of late pressure, Wells added: "The Northampton game was the most physical one of the season for us.

"Across the board they had threats, either as carriers, tacklers, guys competing at the breakdown or in the scrum. There was pressure on us every single minute, and we did brilliantly well with it.

"They stepped it up as the game progressed, we were hanging on at the end, and each side had their golden 20-30 minutes. Ours came in the first half and theirs in the second, but those last 12 minutes at the end was a great effort from us to hold them out."

Scoring both tries through the backs, the head coach insisted a forward platform is playing a major part in their team-wide improvement.

Wells said: "All over the park we have got guys who, if we give them space to run into, they are all good steppers who can beat defenders.

"However, you need ball from your set-piece to start with, to enable you to run good lines and to give back good ball. You need to contest the tackle on your terms and not the tackler's, which gives you quick ball, and from there you need a continuation of that quick ball to run second and third phase.

"The point I am making is a number of things have to work well together to enable those guys in the backs to have those attacking opportunities whchwe are seeing more and more and it is a team effort."

NEWCASTLE FALCONS: S Hammersley, G Venditti, C Harris, A Powell, M Watson, A Goode, T Takulua; R Vickers, S Lawson, T Vea, C Green, M Wilson, R Mayhew, W Welch (captain), A Hogg. Replacements: G McGuigan, A Rogers, K Hatakeyama, M Botha, T Clever, M Young, C Willis, JP Socino. GLOUCESTER: R Cook, C Sharples, B Meakes, B Twelvetrees (captain), H Purdy, J Hook, W Heinz; P McAllister, R Hibbard, J Afoa, J Thrush, M Galarza, R Moriarty, J Rowan, L Ludlow. Replacements: D Dawidiuk, Y Thomas, P Doran-Jones, T Savage, M Kvesic, C Braley, B Burns, H Trinder. Referee: D Richards. Kick-off: 3.00.

| The pitch at Kingsholm has been soft and muddy

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| Falcons' head coach John Wells
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 27, 2016
Words:729
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