It is all change for Newcastle Falcons ahead of this Friday’s British and Irish Cup trip to Connacht (kick-off 7.45pm).
12 changes in all have been made for the cup showdown as the northeasterners gear-up for the return of Championship rugby at home to Rotherham Titans next Friday night (kick-off 8pm).
After opening up their British and Irish Cup account with a comprehensive 52-5 victory over Cross Keys last weekend, Falcons boss Dean Richards has rang the changes.
Andy Higgins, Alex Crockett, Tane Tu’ipulotu, Tom Catterick, Jimmy Gopperth and Rory Lawson all return to the backline, while Alex Tait retains his place at full-back.
Jonny Golding, Rob Vickers and Oliver Tomaszczyk start in the front-row with Richard Mayhew and Ally Hogg coming into the back-row. Carlo del Fava returns to the engine room to round-off a much changed Falcons outfit.
Director of rugby Richards said: “Connacht will undoubtedly be very competitive at the breakdown area, but having looked at what they do, they also play with a bit of flair too – they will really challenge us.
Whilst Connacht have their commitments in the Heineken Cup this weekend, it is important that we remember that we will be facing a very accomplished side who will pose us with a lot of challenges.
“We rested a few of the boys last week, and those boys are back in contention this week. When you win by scoring more than 50 points you’ve got to have played reasonably well, but at the same time it how you score those points and we will be looking to improve.”
Newcastle 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