Newcastle Falcons have announced an overhauled starting line up to face Cardiff Blues on Friday evening, with Dean Richards making 10 changes as his side begin to gear up for the return of Aviva Premiership action in a week’s time.
Alex Tait, Noah Cato, Gonzalo Tiesi, Adam Powell all make welcome returns in the backline, having been rested during the previous European Rugby Challenge Cup and LV= Cup fixtures, while Alex Tuilagi makes his second consecutive start on the wing he occupied during last weekend’s trip to Northampton Saints.
Ruki Tipuna and Juan Pablo Socino will be bringing their usual high tempo partnership as they pair up in the half backs for the first time in a month, coming in for Mike Blair and Rory Clegg respectively.
In the forwards, on loan prop Alex Rogers makes his first start for the Falcons at loose head prop while Rob Vickers moves into the Hooker position, replacing Rob Hawkins who pulled out of the Northampton match prior to kick off.
Young English tight head Scott Wilson remains in the number three jersey, while Calum Green and Dom Barrow combine in the second row.
Enforced changes in the back row provide Richard Mayhew and Andy Saull the opportunity to start, with Saull taking on the captaincy with Will Welch sidelined through injury, while the base of the scrum is once again steered by Cumbrian number 8 Mark Wilson.
On the bench, George Mcguigan, David Nelson and Oliver Tomaszczyk provide the front row cover while Scott Macleod and Chris York complete the forward replacements.
The bench is completed with last week’s half back pairing of Mike Blair and Rory Clegg, alongside young Cumbrian centre Chris Harris.
Commenting on his side, Director of Rugby Dean Richards said: "We’ve been hit with a few injuries recently, but that’s the nature of the game and while it’s obviously disappointing for those out, it does give people who have been staking a claim to a spot in training to be given that opportunity."
"Friday’s squad allows us to involve guys who have missed out in the last couple of weeks and have needed a rest like Gonzalo Tiesi, Juan Pablo Socino, Ruki Tipuna, Alex Tait and Adam Powell and it should be a good test against Cardiff."
NEWCASTLE FALCONS v CARDIFF BLUES
7th November 2014
15. Alex Tait, 14. Noah Cato, 13. Gonzalo Tiesi, 12. Adam Powell, 11. Alex Tuilagi, 10. Juan Pablo Socino, 9. Ruki Tipuna; 1. Alex Rogers, 2. Rob Vickers, 3. Scott Wilson, 4. Calum Green, 5. Dom Barrow, 6. Richard Mayhew, 7. Andy Saull (c), 8. Mark Wilson.
16.George McGuigan, 17. David Nelson, 18. Oliver Tomaszczyk, 19. Scott Macleod, 20. Chris York, 21. Mike Blair, 22. Rory Clegg, 23. Chris Harris