Photo by Chris Lishman

Big Match Preview: Rotherham V Newcastle

Friday 1 March 2013

Newcastle Falcons are unchanged for this Saturday’s RFU Championship trip to Rotherham Titans (kick-off 3pm).

On the back of last weekend’s 50-3 crushing of Cornish Pirates Dean Richards has stuck with the same XV as the Falcons continue their march towards the end of season play-offs.

Michael Tait retains his place at outside centre alongside Jamie Helleur, while Ryan Shortland and Andrew Higgins occupy both wings.

Rory Lawson and Jimmy Gopperth form a mouth-watering half-back combination, with Tom Catterick pulling on the No.15 jersey for the sixth time in a row.

Meanwhile five of the pack came through the Falcons’ academy system with Grant Shiells, Matt Thompson, Oliver Tomaszczyk, Mark Wilson and skipper Will Welch all starting upfront.

James Hudson and Scottish capped duo Scott MacLeod and Ally Hogg round off the pack.

Falcons boss Richards is expecting a physical battle against the South Yorkshire club as his charges look to make it 17 league wins on the spin.

“Rotherham have big lumpy forwards, and I think their pitch is the narrowest pitch in the league so it will be a very hard game down there,” said Richards.

He added: “The boys have been working hard and it has been nice to see the backs turn it on in the last few weeks.”

Asked about new recruit Cato, Richards said: “Noah came here with a touch of Tonsillitis and he has just started training with us fully and we will see how things develop over the next ten days.

“It will be about getting him used to our style of play – there is no doubt about his ability as a finisher and it will be about him learning about us, and us learning about him.”

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Catterick, 14 Andrew Higgins, 13 Michael Tait, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 Grant Shiells, 2 Matt Thompson, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Scott MacLeod, 5 James Hudson, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Ally Hogg

Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 James Hall, 18 Sean Tomes, 19 Taiasina Tu’ifua, 20 Warren Fury, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 Alex Crockett

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