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Dean Richards' Newcastle looking to set the record straight against Bath

Dean Richards believes his Newcastle team will "have a point to prove" when they host Aviva Premiership opponents Bath on Friday.

Bath arrive at Kingston Park less than four months after inflicting a 58-5 drubbing on the Falcons.

But Newcastle have more than held their own in the Premiership since then and a victory over the west country club would lift them two places into sixth.

Newcastle rugby director Richards said: "You look at the Bath away game, and we were harshly done by a yellow card to Niki Goneva, which I thought was a really poor decision on the day. As a consequence, we leaked three or four tries at the end of the first half, and that killed the game in the sense we were so far behind we were chasing it and leaving ourselves open.

"Yeah, we have got a point to prove, but it is all about ourselves and our ability to produce the game we want to produce.

"That game is behind us now, and it's not about retribution. It wasn't Bath who sent Niki Goneva to the sin-bin, it was someone else, and we have just got to go about our game in making sure we are on top of it. If we are, we will come away with the result."

Newcastle are currently well clear of the Premiership's relegation zone, which comes as a welcome change on recent seasons following three successive 11th-placed finishes.

"It's a very happy camp at the moment," Richards added.

"To be fair, it always has been, but during the past two or three years the boys have been looking down or over their shoulders at what has been happening at the bottom of the table.

"I've personally never had that fear that we would finish bottom, but it's how far up the ladder we finish.

"This season, we are starting to make headway up the league. The boys are very much enjoying their rugby and it is starting to come together.

"In the first five or six league games this season we struggled a little bit to get into the groove, but we are there now."

Richards makes three changes, with flanker Will Welch returning to captain the side after recovering from a fractured cheekbone. Welch replaces an injured Ally Hogg, while lock Evan Olmstead is also back and Belisario Agulla moves to the wing from midfield, replacing hamstring injury victim Marcus Watson. Dominic Waldouck starts at centre.

England international Anthony Watson will make his first Bath start since October, featuring at full-back. Watson began his comeback from injury off the bench against Exeter last weekend, while George Ford and Darren Allinson link up at half-back.

Bath have a number of players unavailable for selection, including Taulupe Faletau, Dave Attwood, Kahn Fotuali'i and Charlie Ewels.

Richards said: "Bath are an incredibly dangerous team, and you can't take your foot off the gas against them.

"They found it difficult last week against Exeter going down to 14 men, and as much as they will be upset by that defeat, they will understand there is a reason and a rationale behind it.

"They will obviously want to come up here and turn it around, but we also have a point to prove after not getting the result we wanted against Wasps last week."


From Belfast Telegraph