Preview: Newcastle v Northampton

Date published: April 15 2011

Northampton Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder is wary of the dangers that will be posed by Newcastle in Friday's clash at Kingston Park.

Northampton Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder is wary of the dangers that will be posed by Newcastle in Friday's clash at Kingston Park.

The Saints return to Aviva Premiership action still in the hunt for a top four spot and the place in the semi-finals that comes with it.

But Newcastle's result against Leeds last week sees them fighting for a place in the league, and Mallinder commented that this will make the Falcons very dangerous on their home turf.

“Newcastle are fighting for their lives and will battle throughout the full 80 minutes and beyond,” he said.

“We are right at the business end of the season and a point here or there really matters to every team whether you are at the top or the bottom of the lead.

“The Falcons are physical in midfield, have a committed pack of forwards and one of the Premiership's top points scorers in Jimmy Gopperth.

“It will certainly not be easy for us at Kingston Park, far from it, and we are prepared for a tough challenge.

“We got a good result on Sunday in Milton Keynes, but that is behind us now and we have been fully focused on Newcastle all week.

“Understandably the players have been in good spirits, but they also know that we have to keep winning if we are to secure a place in the top four for the play-offs.

“There are lots of teams ready to capitalise if we slip up, so we have to make sure we don't.”

Meanwhile, the Falcons have made three changes for the visit of Northampton.

Tom Catterick gets the nod at full-back ahead of the injured Jeremy Manning, while there are starts for Gcobani Bobo on the wing and James Fitzpatrick at centre.

Alan Tait's men will be hoping to bounce back from last weekend's narrow defeat to Leeds, with victory over a star-studded Saints outfit.

A last-gasp Adrian Jarvis drop-goal snatched victory for the Yorkshiremen, and one man itching for the Falcons to bounce back is back-rower Ally Hogg.

Speaking to the gathering media at Kingston Park, Hogg insists the Falcons' premiership status is very much in their hands.

“At one point behind and four games to go it is still in our own hands, and we will go out there for every single match determined to fight for the win,” he said.

Hogg never had to endure the fret of relegation during his ten-year stint at Edinburgh as the Magners League is a ring-fenced 10-team competition.

“If you were in this position in the Magners League then you would start thinking about building for next year, but we don't have that luxury because we are fighting for our lives until the very end of the season,” he said.

The teams:

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

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Paul Diggin, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Stuart Commins, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Bruce Reihana.

Date: Friday, April 15
Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 19:45 BST