Match preview: Newcastle Falcons v Connacht Eagles

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Saturday 12 January 2013 – 3.00pm

Kingston Park, Newcastle

British & Irish Cup Pool 4 #5

 

The Falcons have a second chance to secure qualification for the British & Irish Cup quarter-finals tomorrow, after a two-point deduction left us ten points ahead of Newport at the top of pool four.

 

In reality though, it would still take some extreme results to knock the Falcons off top spot. Tomorrow third-placed Connacht Eagles visit KP before our visit to Cross Keys wraps up the group stage next Saturday.

 

Connacht’s second string are out of the race for a place in the quarter-finals, although they could still finish second as only three points separate Newport in second spot from Cross Keys on the bottom.

 

Having taken a bonus point from their opening pool game in Newport, Connacht were downed by the Falcons 3-34 in Athlone of course back in October. The Eagles’ December double-header against Cross Keys went with home advantage, the Welsh side winning 17-12 at home before Connacht got the four points back in Ireland with a 31-16 victory.

 

The latter success was achieved despite Connacht losing prop Rodney Ah You to a red card after less than a 20 minutes. Tadhg Leader scored a try to add to 16 points with the boot, and Eoghan Grace and Kevin O’Byrne also crossed.

 

As you probably know or at least expect, tomorrow will be the first time that Connacht’s reserves have visited KP, but their first team’s last visit in December 2007 was a big day in the Falcons’ history, and not a little hairy – it was Carl Hayman’s home debut.

 

In front of almost seven and half thousand fans, the Falcons avenged the previous week’s European Challenge Cup loss in Galway with a 39-0 win. Tim Visser, Mathew Tait and Jonny Wilkinson scored tries along with replacements Toby Flood and Ollie Phillips. It’s amazing to look at the team that day and think about how many good players we had back in John Fletcher’s time:

 

T May, T Visser, M Tait, J Noon (c), J Rudd, J Wilkinson, L Dickson, J McDonnell, M Thompson, C Hayman, A Perry, M Sorenson, G Parling, B Woods, R Winter. Replacements: A Long, J Golding, S Tomes, B Wilson, J Grindal, T Flood, O Phillips.

 

 

Previous to that, at the end of March 2006 the Irish side came to Newcastle in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup, and in his first full season in the senior team Toby Flood played a blinder to send the Falcons into the last four. Noah scored 15 points including a try, while Mike McCarthy was the other try-scorer in a 20-3 win for a team that included Matthew Burke and Mark Mayerhofler, and was captained by Colin Charvis.

 

 

Tom Catterick makes his first start in a while tomorrow alongside Luke Fielden and Andy Higgins in the back three, and Waisea Luveniyali and Warren Fury form the half-back partnership. Scott MacLeod gets a start as James Hudson drops to the bench, and captain Will Welch makes a first start in a couple of months after injury. James Fitzpatrick makes a rare appearance in the centres.

 

Falcons: 15 Tom Catterick, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Andrew Higgins, 10 Waisea Luveniyali, 9 Warren Fury, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Carlo del Fava, 5 Scott MacLeod, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Richard Mayhew.

 

Replacements: 16 Michael Mayhew, 17 Scott Wilson, 18 James Hudson, 19 Chris York, 20 Rory Lawson, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 Alex Crockett

 
It has been mentioned that this team looks set up to score tries and with a quick back three there is that possibility. Dean Richards has said that there is no chance of a let-up in this cup match and a win of any kind will definitely secure  quarter-final place, so there is every reason to believe that the feel-good factor will continue following last night’s presentation of the club’s vision.

 

 

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

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