Friday 28 September 2012 – 8.00pm
Kingston Park, Newcastle
RFU Championship #5
The first local derby (or the nearest we’ll get to it) takes place at KP tomorrow night as we renew hostilities with Leeds after a year off. Always a popular game for away fans whether played in the North East or Yorkshire, the Falcons will be hoping for a big crowd last night following four successive wins and the announcement of a special offer on tickets.
The Cardigans haven’t had a bad start to the season, with two wins and no less than FIVE bonus points from their first four matches. Bonus-point wins at home to Jersey and Bristol, the latter on Sunday 50-31, have helped them into fifth in the table alongside defeats at Nottingham and Plymouth, both by less than the magic seven-point margin.
On the south coast two weeks ago the Yorkshiremen scored five tries but came away with only the two points as Plymouth continued their own good start with a 32-31 win.
There is a current Falcon in the Leeds squad in hooker Joe Graham, who made his first start in green, black and white hoops against Bristol. One of the try-scorers was Fred Burdon, a Geordie-born former academy Falcon, who played in the backline alongside the talented David Doherty, now in his second spell at Headingley around time with Sale, Wasps, Jersey and Cornish Pirates.
We have a long history with Leeds, well, their predecessor clubs Roundhay and Headingley anyway, having first met them in 1952 and 1963 respectively. The Tykes, as they used to be, have been regular Premiership opponents of ours for much of the past decade, and though we had the best of our first few meetings, the Falcons have only won one of the past five competitive games, at Headingley in February last year.
Leeds at KP:
09/12/1995 Club Match W33-0
21/10/2001 Premiership W19-8
29/09/2002 Premiership W27-20
15/02/2004 Premiership L25-28
14/11/2004 Premiership W29-16
06/05/2006 Premiership W54-19
05/10/2007 Premiership W21-19
27/12/2009 Premiership L15-16
09/04/2011 Premiership L29-30
19/08/2011 Friendly W36-5
11/08/2012 Friendly W52-19
That last league duel at KP in April 2011 was not a very enjoyable game from a black point of view. Leading 20-7 with the clock on zero for half-time, Jeremy Manning had a rush of blood to the head and tried to keep play active on our own line, allowing Peter Wackett to score a converted try that should never have been.
Another try early in the second half after a penalty put Leeds ahead and Jimmy Gopperth and Adrian Jarvis traded kicks until the Cardies secured a vital win that could have sent us down, but in the end didn’t by the smallest of margins – points difference.
The previous game at Christmas 2009 was a slug-fest in the mud that left the home crowd very unhappy and that’s all I’ll say about that.
Jimmy Gopperth plays another game at full-back tomorrow as Joel Hodgson continues at fly-half. Mark Wilson gets a first start of the season and Carlo del Fava is on from the start for the first time. Ally Hogg continues as captain with Will Welch still injured.
Falcons: 15 Jimmy Gopperth, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Tom Catterick, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Carlo del Fava, 5 James Hudson, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Richard Mayhew, 8 Ally Hogg (c).
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 James Hall, 18 Scott MacLeod, 19 Taiasina Tu’ifua, 20 Jordi Pasqualin, 21 Alex Tait, 22 Jamie Helleur.
Joe Graham is not in the visiting team due to being on loan, the experienced Phil Nilsen starting at hooker as he gets closer to 100 games for Leeds, but Burdon does make his first senior start at KP. Matt Smith and Dan Hemingway provide an arty second row.
Leeds: 15 Stevie McColl, 14 Curtis Wilson, 13 Josh Griffin, 12 Fred Burdon, 11 David Doherty, 10 Joe Ford, 9 Craig Hampson, 1 Sam Lockwood, 2 Phil Nilsen, 3 Damien Tussac, 4 Matt Smith, 5 Dan Hemingway, 6 Jacob Rowan (c), 7 Chris Walker, 8 Rob Baldwin.
Replacements: 16 Harry Hannan, 17 Lee Imiolek, 18 Ben Hooper, 19 Calum Green, 20 Richard Beck, 21 James Doherty, 22 Jamel Chisholm.
Time was I used to always go to Leeds away but never at home, and it looks like that will happen again this season. For those of you going tomorrow night, the ticket offer is on until midday tomorrow. Hope those in the North Stand don’t get too wet!
(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)