Preview: Newcastle v Leicester

Date published: April 21 2011

Leicester have rested half-backs Toby Flood and Ben Youngs for Good Friday's Aviva Premiership trip to Newcastle.

Leicester have rested half-backs Toby Flood and Ben Youngs for Good Friday's Aviva Premiership trip to Newcastle.

Tigers Players' Player of the Year, Anthony Allen, returns to the starting line-up after sitting out the match against former club Gloucester last week but returns to partner Manu Tuilagi at centre.

Matt Smith also returns to the starting line-up, and Jeremy Staunton and James Grindal are named at half-back with Flood and Youngs resting injuries.

Marcos Ayerza and George Chuter are included in the front row, while Ed Slater comes into the second row and captain Craig Newby returns at openside.

“A couple of the guys have been nursing a few little niggling injuries and we have to look after ones like Toby and Ben who have played a lot of rugby recently, as we did with Craig Newby and Anth Allen last week,” said Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill.

“Newcastle is a tough trip but we have been very consistent through the season and we want to maintain those high standards.”

Jordan Crane, Steve Mafi and Louis Deacon are ruled out by injury this week.

Meanwhile, Newcastle Falcons have made three changes to their side.

Samoan lock-forward Filipo Levi starts ahead of Tim Swinson, while Rob Vickerman is handed the number 13 jersey.

Wing ace Luke Fielden returns to the wing following a shoulder injury with Chris Pilgrim retaining the scrum-half berth despite the return of Micky Young.

The northeasterners lock horns with the Tigers on the back of last week's bonus point loss against a star-studded Northampton Saints outfit. With the score poised at 15-15 and an imminent share of the spoils, England full-back Chris Ashton touched down in the corner to deny Newcastle the draw.

Stand in skipper Jimmy Gopperth is in no mood for niceties, as he looks to continue the impeccable goal-kicking form that helped his side to a precious premiership point last Friday.

“It doesn't get any easier, but it's all exciting when you get the real top sides coming up to you home ground,” said Gopperth who nailed five pressure kicks against the Saints.
“It is a good challenge for us, and one that we have been looking forward to. That was the case last week against Northampton and, like that game, we will give it a good crack.
“The bonus point was not unexpected, within the group anyway, and we knew that if we got in their faces we could put a lot of pressure on them.
“We needed to show what we were about after the disappointment of the Leeds game a week earlier, and we were unlucky not to get two points if we are totally honest,” he added.

Form: Leicester have won their last three encounters with Newcastle, and are going for a second successive victory at Kingston Park for the first time since 1999. Newcastle have lost their last five matches in all competitions, whilst the Falcons only Premiership victory at Kingston Park since November was 33-18 over Harlequins on 4 March. Leicester Tigers' only Aviva Premiership reversal since October was 14-15 at home to Saracens on 5 March. The Tigers have won their last six away games in the competition and are closing in on the Premiership record in this category – eight, set by themselves in season 1999/2000.

The teams:

Newcastle:15 Tom Catterick, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Rob Vickerman, 12 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 11 Luke Fielden, 10 Jimmy Gopperth (c), 9 Chris Pilgrim, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Andrew van der Heijden, 4 Filipo Levi, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Jonny Golding.
Replacements: 16 Rob Vickers, 17 Grant Shiells, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Alex Gray, 21 Micky Young, 22 Luke Eves, 23 Gcobani Bobo.

Leicester: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Matt Smith, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Jeremy Staunton, 9 James Grindal, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Craig Newby (c), 6 Tom Croft, 5 George Skivington, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Calum Green, 20 Ben Woods, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Horacio Agulla.

Date: Friday, April 22
Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 18.00 BST
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth