Match preview: Connacht Eagles v Newcastle Falcons

Friday 19 October 2012 – 7.45pm

Dubarry Park (Buccaneers RFC), Athlone, Ireland

British & Irish Cup Pool 4 #2

 

For the first time in probably over a century, the Falcons’ first team will take on the official second team of another club (well, province) tomorrow night. This is another example of how things are very different down in the Championship.

 

You’d think that come Saturday morning we should have 10, or at least nine, points in our British & Irish Cup group after this game against Connacht’s reserves, but we’ll see what happens.

 

As always a merry band of Geordie supporters are heading to the Connacht-Leinster border, hoping for a repeat of the good time that was had by away fans the last time we went over the Irish Sea in 2007 for a competitive game, when the men in green beat John Fletcher’s Falcons 16-13 in the European Challenge Cup. Tom May scored our try and Jonny Wilkinson kicked eight points.

 

Lineups from that game, Carl Hayman’s first start, are here – we certainly had a good team back then.

 

The Eagles lost their first outing in the B&I Cup this season, going down 18-14 at Newport last weekend. They included a few first team players in the squad, including their captain, flanker Eoghan Grace a week after hid 25th birthday, and made it up with academy lads.

 

And what of our hosts tomorrow? Connacht’s second string will be playing all of their B&I Cup home games this season in Athlone and local supporters could turn out to see several of their own players line up for the province.

 

The Buccaneers’ website does not reveal a great deal, although Dubarry Park is the home of the Athlone Rugby 7s, which took place for a fourth year in August this year with men’s and women’s senior teams, a men’s junior competition and a mixed tax tournament. It looks a nice little ground, certainly.

 

The Buccaneers first team play in Division 1B of the national Ulster Bank League and have had two narrow games so far, losing 17-27 at home to Ballynahinch at the end of September before winning away to Brian O’Driscoll’s old team Blackrock College in Dublin 14-23 two weeks ago.

 

In the season-starting Connacht Senior League, the team finished third of five teams, beating Connemara and Corinthians but losing to finalists Sligo and Galwegians in their final two games.

 
The Falcons have named a strong side for this game, with the likes of Jimmy Gopperth, Rory Lawson, Jonny Golding and Ally Hogg back. Scott Wilson and Warren Fury could get another opportunity to impress from the bench:

 

Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Andy Higgins, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Tom Catterick, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Carlo del Fava, 5 Scott MacLeod, 6 Richard Mayhew, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Ally Hogg.

 

Replacements: 16 Michael Mayhew, 17 Scott Wilson, 18 Sean Tomes, 19 Mark Wilson, 20 Warren Fury, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 Suka Hufanga.

 

 

So, a nice quick one this week. The travelling fans are sure to bring back some good tales from this game, and perhaps the Connacht-Harlequins Heineken Cup game in Galway on Saturday night. Hopefully the team will bring back five points too.

 

 

(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)

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