Preview: Newcastle v Exeter

Date published: January 6 2012

Newcastle Falcons have made three changes for Saturday's crucial Aviva Premiership clash with Exeter Chiefs at Kingston Park.

Newcastle Falcons have made three changes for Saturday's crucial Aviva Premiership clash with Exeter Chiefs at Kingston Park.

Luke Fielden returns to the wing following a hip injury while Tim Swinson replaces skipper James Hudson, who has a shoulder injury. Jimmy Gopperth captains the side in his absence.

Samoan international Taiasina Tu'ifua starts at blindside flanker with Richard Mayhew getting the nod at number eight.

Tongan flyer Suka Hufanga moves to outside centre while Corne Uys has passed a late fitness test and has a place on the bench.

“Exeter are a very difficult team to breakdown and they will never give in,” said Falcons head coach Alan Tait.

“They are a stuffy side and last year they got a stranglehold of us when they came up here. It was always going to be decided by the slightest of margins and that proved to be the case.

“Hopefully we can turn up on Saturday and match them physically but I also want us to play the style of rugby that I know that we are capable of.

“I want us to be looking for the line-breaks and putting players into spaces. Our players know that it is going to be a battle but we still want to create chances and move them around.”

Meanwhile, Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter has made two changes to his starting line-up – both of which come in the pack where Hoani Tui comes in for John Andress at tighthead, whilst Tom Johnson returns in the back-row in place of James Phillips.

“It is always a massive ask up there, but equally it is one we achieved last year and one we are capable of winning,” said Exeter assistant coach Ali Hepher.

“Without a shadow of a doubt we're expecting them to come out strong. I've played up there many a time in the past and it's a tough place to go. They come at you straight away and it will be no different this week. They may see it as a must-win game for them, but it's a must-win for us in a certain sense because we have just got to keep winning in Premiership.”

Form: Newcastle Falcons have slipped to three straight defeats in all competitions, whilst at Kingston Park their six game unbeaten run ended at the hands of Northampton Saints on New Year's Eve. Exeter Chiefs lost both of their Aviva Premiership Rugby holiday fixtures, to London Irish and Harlequins. The Chiefs have won two of their last three away encounters. Exeter won 32-15 when the two sides met at Sandy Park in September, and also won 23-13 on their most recent visit to Kingston Park, on 18 February.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Greg Goosen, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Suka Hufanga, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Jeremy Manning, 10 Jimmy Gopperth (c), 9 Jordi Pasqualin, 8 Richard Mayhew 7 Will Welch, 6 Taiasina Tu'ifua, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Rob Vickers, 1 Grant Shiells.
Replacements: 16 Michael Mayhew, 17 Ashley Wells, 18 James Hall, 19 Mark Wilson, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Tom Catterick, 23 Corne Uys

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Nic Sestaret, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Tom Hayes (c), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Neil Clark, 1 Brett Sturgess.
Replacements: 16 Simon Alcott, 17 John Andress, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Chris Bentley, 20 James Phillips, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Josh Tatupu.

Date: Saturday, January 7
Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 15.00 GMT
Referee: Andrew Small