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Saull aware of Bath threat

Newcastle flanker Andy Saull knows what to expect from Bath as the two sides prepare to face each other in this season's Aviva Premiership opener under Friday night lights at Kingston Park.

Saull, who joined the north-east outfit from Saracens this summer, has enjoyed a tough pre-season with the Falcons, who returned to the English top flight at the first time of asking by beating Bedford in the Championship play-off final at the end of May.

Newcastle drew 21-21 against Bath in a pre-season match in a hot and humid Beziers last month, and Saull is confident Dean Richards' side can deal with whatever faces them come kick-off.

"We know what Bath are going to bring to the table, and we knew that when we played them in our first pre-season game," the 24-year-old told the club's official website.

"They might throw a few different moves at us or some different combinations, but we feel suitably prepared for their visit to the north-east.

"We could be faced with some different scenarios that we haven't come up against, but in terms of their general ethos we know what they're going to bring as a team."

Friday night's game will also mark the introduction of new laws at the scrum in the English top flight, which are being trialled in the northern hemisphere this season.

The adjusted rules force opposing props to bind fully onto each other before engagement and the scrum will only be active when the ball is fed, which scrum-halves must now do straight down the tunnel.

Referee Wayne Barnes, who has visited Premiership clubs throughout pre-season to assist them in adapting to the rules, will take charge of the match.

The game will also see the return of former Newcastle coaches Gary Gold and Mike Ford to Kingston Park, as they are now in charge at Bath.

Falcons captain Will Welch hopes to strike an early blow and get one over the former Falcons coaching duo.

"Our first game will be tough," Welch told www.premiershiprugby.com.

"We know Gary and Mike from when they were up with us and they are a good set of coaches.

"We played them in our first pre-season game and they're a well-drilled, physical side so they'll be looking to come up to Newcastle and to make a good start.

"But likewise Newcastle and Kingston Park is one of the toughest places to come in the Premiership and we want to get that first win under our belts.

"I think it's an advantage being at home first up, especially on a Friday night because it's not the nicest place to come up at Newcastle.

"Obviously to get that first win will be massive for confidence reasons and we're looking in good shape and I'm pretty confident we can do it."

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