Newcastle Falcons have made six changes for this Sunday’s British and Irish Cup clash with Newport at Kingston Park (kick-off 3pm).
Tane Tu’ipulotu replaces Suka Hufanga at outside centre, while Ryan Shortland gets the nod on the wing as the Falcons look to maintain their unbeaten record this campaign.
Rob Vickers starts in the front-row alongside Grant Shiells and Oliver Tomaszczyk, with the experienced heads of James Hudson and Ally Hogg adding steel upfront.
“I think it will be a real battle upfront, and the weather forecast is for wet and windy conditions this weekend, so it’s going to be interesting,” said head coach Peter Russell.
“Newport put up a dogged fight against us in the second-half last week, and it was one of those games of two halves.
We went into the changing room at half-time buoyant at our performance, but we just couldn’t kick-on which was disappointing.
“We didn’t manage to fire on all cylinders in the second-half, and a few decisions didn’t quite go our way. They got back-to-back penalties early on in the second period and the next minute they scored in the corner,” added Russell.
Following Sunday’s return clash with the Welsh outfit, the northeasterners welcome London Scottish to Kingston Park in the RFU Championship.
Russell said: “We’ve got to look a little bit more ahead of ourselves in terms of the London Scottish game, and this week we have introduced some more players leading into that game.
“It’s all about the play-offs come the end of the season, but we can’t look too far ahead and we must take each game by merit.”
Tickets are still available for the game by calling the Falcons Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060 or click here to purchase online.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Jimmy Gopperth, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 Grant Shiells, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Sean Tomes, 5 James Hudson, 6 Ally Hogg (c), 7 Richard Mayhew, 8 Taiasina Tu’ifua
Replacements: 16 Michael Mayhew, 17 Scott Wilson, 18 Scott MacLeod, 19 Chris York, 20 Warren Fury, 21 James Fitzpatrick, 22 Suka Hufanga