(courtesy of Andrew Bennison)

B&I Cup Preview: Newport V Falcons

Friday 7 December 2012

Jamie Helleur captains Newcastle Falcons for the British and Irish Cup trip to Newport, as Dean Richards makes seven changes from the side that defeated Plymouth Albion last week.

Tonga international Suka Hufanga partners Helleur at outside centre, while Joel Hodgson and Rory Lawson form an exciting half-back combination.

In the front-row Scott Wilson gets the nod a week after making his league debut, with James Goode, Richard Mayhew and Taiasina Tu’ifua also coming into the pack.

James Hudson gets a place on the bench after recovering from a hand injury, while James Fitzpatrick is also amongst the replacements.

“We are expecting a tough battle against Newport,” said Falcons boss Richards, who has led his charges to 13 wins out of 13 this campaign.

“Every Welsh side are well organised and hard to beat, but we have a good squad here at Kingston Park and I am looking forward to the test.

“It will be a difficult game for us and they will take us on upfront. The Welsh always have half-backs that will test you, so it will certainly be a hard game down there,” added Richards.

Kingston Park has been covered in a blanket of snow for much of this week forcing the Falcons to train at the all-weather facility of Druid Park.

“There’s been a few snowball fights,” joked Richards.

“But the lads have to get out there and train, and it has been nice to have the luxury of Druid Park – we have got a lot of work done that we wanted to get done,” he added.

Richard Mayhew comes into the back-row to strengthen the Falcons front-line, and is looking forward to the trip to Wales.

He said: “They have some big players by all accounts and we are expecting nothing but a difficult Welsh encounter.

“There is so much depth in the squad at the moment, and every time you go out onto the pitch you want to solidify your spot for the next game.

“Every guy who plays this weekend knows he has a guy hot on his heels, and it’s up to those who get the opportunity to take their chance.”

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Jimmy Gopperth, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Suka Hufanga, 12 Jamie Helleur (c), 11 Andy Higgins, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 Grant Shiells, 2 Michael Mayhew, 3 Scott Wilson, 4 Sean Tomes, 5 James Goode, 6 Chris York, 7 Richard Mayhew, 8 Taiasina Tu’ifua

Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 18 James Hudson, 19 Mark Wilson, 20 Warren Fury, 21 Waisea Luveniyali, 22 James Fitzpatrick

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