Friday 17 May 2013 – 7.30pm
Kingston Park, Newcastle
British & Irish Cup Final
I’m a bit busy these days so haven’t had much times for previews recently, but tomorrow night is a cup final, so I’m going to pull out something. It may not be the biggest prize we’re playing for this season, heck it’s not on the same planet as promotion to the Premiership, but the British & Irish Cup is a competition and a trophy there to be won.
Winning a cup can never be a bad thing, and in the 15-a-side game we haven’t won one since 2004.
After the semi-final draw pitched England v England and Ireland v Ireland, we host Leinster’s reserves at KP tomorrow night, with the Falcons having pitched the ticket prices well to get a good crowd – £10 for adults and kids for free.
Leinster A topped their pool with 22 points, two ahead of Pontypridd, with four wins from their six group matches. A 25-23 loss away to the Welsh side in week two still yielded a bonus point, and a last day draw at West Park with Leeds meant that Pontypridd’s five-point win over Jersey in April was academic.
In the quarter-finals, the fifth seeds were sent to Bristol and triumphed 26-30 on the same weekend that Leinster’s first team beat Wasps in the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup. Andrew Conway, Andrew Goodman, James Tracy and Fionn Carr (not Fiona, as I first read it) were the try scorers at the Memorial Stadium.
Munster A were then sent packing in an all-Irish semi-final in front of 1,350 fans at Garryowen FC, to secure a final meeting with the Falcons as we beat Bedford the following day.
Leinster will be hoping to keep the cup in Ireland after it was won by Munster A a year ago, while the Falcons will want to become the third English champion in this tournament’s four seasons, following in the footsteps of Cornish Pirates in 2010 and Bristol in 2011.
The Falcons’ team is a mix of youth and experience, with a debut for Jamie Sole and possibly James Hallam off the bench, while Zach Kibirige is back in the team too for the first time since New Year’s Day. Alex Crockett, Andrew Higgins, James Hall and Chris York get rare starts and James Hudson is the captain on what will either be his final or penultimate home game as a Falcon.
Falcons: 15 Jamie Sole, 14 Zach Kibirge, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Andrew Higgins, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 James Hall, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Scott Wilson, 4 Sean Tomes, 5 James Hudson (c), 6 Ollie Stedman, 7 Richard Mayhew, 8 Chris York.
Replacements: 16 Michael Mayhew, 17 James Hallam, 18 Scott MacLeod, 19 Taiasina Tu’ifua, 20 Chris Pilgrim, 21 Waisea Luveniyali, 22 Michael Tait
15 Fionn Carr, 14 Sam Coghlan-Murray, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Andrew Boyle, 10 Cathal Marsh, 9 Luke McGrath, 1 Jack O’Connell, 2 Aaron Dundon, 3 Michael Bent, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 5 Mark Flanagan, 6 Dominic Ryan, 7 Conor Gilsenan, 8 Jordi Murphy (c).
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Martin Moore, 18 Leo Auva’a, 19 Daniel Leavy, 20 Adam Griggs, 21 Jordan Coghlan, 22 Adam Byrne.
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