Preview: Newcastle v Exeter

Date published: May 9 2014

Newcastle have made three changes to their starting XV for Saturday's Premiership clash against Exeter Chiefs at Kingston Park.

Newcastle have made three changes to their starting XV for Saturday's Premiership clash against Exeter Chiefs at Kingston Park.

On-loan Munster lock Ian Nagle makes his debut, replacing Scott MacLeod who drops to the replacements bench, while props Gary Strain and Oliver Tomaszczyk get the nod in the front-row alongside Scott Lawson.

Meanwhile, Dean Richards sticks with the same back-line that masterminded five tries against London Wasps in a 44-38 defeat last weekend which ensured the Falcons left Adams Park with two bonus-points and their Premiership status intact.

“We want to finish the campaign on a high and so will Exeter, so it promises to be an entertaining match in front of our home fans,” said Newcastle head coach Peter Russell.

“We have been playing some decent attacking rugby of late, and we are scoring tries which is very encouraging to see.

“Hopefully we can continue our try-scoring form and send the supporters home with a welcome win.”

Meanwhile, buoyed by their much-improved display in last weekend's 30-29 loss against Harlequins, the Chiefs head to the North East having made just three changes to their starting XV.

Ben Moon returns to the front-row in place of Carl Rimmer, while a bang to the head for Dave Ewers means the imposing forward misses out and is replaced by James Scaysbrook. In the back division, the only change sees Henry Slade at fly-half with leading points-scorer Gareth Steenson dropping down to the replacements' bench.

Rimmer's demotion to the bench means Craig Mitchell misses out, while England international Tom Johnson has recovered from a hamstring injury and offers back up to the Exeter back-row.

Exeter boss Rob Baxter has told his players that last weekend's display has to be the benchmark from now on as he will not accept a return to the limp performance that saw them crash 55-12 in their previous outing.

“The Harlequins performance has to be a start point for us,” said Baxter.

“We start from there and add to it, it's not the be-all and end-all. We put a lot into that game, but that's where we start from.

“You have to keep building your quality and what you can improve on top of that. We've got to be a bit frustrated with losing and realise that's a minimum standard and we have to keep working hard.”

With the Falcons themselves safe from the threat of relegation, Baxter expects this weekend's host to offer a different challenge, simply because there will be no pressure on them.

“They have had a tough season, yet they've had a successful one as they are still in the Premiership next year,” added Baxter.

“That is the job of all of us – to stay in the Premiership – so it will be interesting this weekend as this will be the first time this season where they are playing without any pressure on them.

“It will be interesting to see what that brings because it will be a different blueprint for them to work off.

“All season they've been working to a certain style of play, but that may well change now so we have to be ready for that.

“At the same time, it's also an interesting challenge for us as not only do we have a long trip, but we want to go up there and finish our season on a high. The guys have talked about that this week, now it's up to us to follow it through.”

Form: Newcastle Falcons have lost their last 15 Aviva Premiership Rugby matches – the fourth worst sequence in the history of the tournament. The Falcons most recent victory at Kingston Park was over thet Dragons in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on January 31. Exeter Chiefs only victory in their last five Premiership fixtures was 38-33 at Worcester in Round 19. The Chiefs have scored at least one try in all 16 matches they have played in all competitions in 2014. Exeter have won all five previous encounters between the two clubs in the Premiership. The Falcons most recent victory over the Chiefs was 17-3 at Kingston Park in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in February 2011.

The teams:

Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Richard Mayhew, 5 Dom Barrow, 4 Ian Nagle, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Gary Strain.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Kieran Brookes, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Scott MacLeod, 20 Andy Saull, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Phil Godman, 23 Lee Smith.

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Ben White, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm (capt), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 James Phillips, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Tom James.

Date: Saturday, May 10
Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 15.15 BST
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Steve Lee and John Meredith
Television match official Trevor Fisher.