Preview: Newcastle v Northampton

Date published: December 30 2011

Newcastle will be without centre Corne Uys and lock Andrew van der Heijden for the Aviva Premiership visit of Northampton on Saturday.

Newcastle will be without centre Corne Uys and lock Andrew van der Heijden for the Aviva Premiership visit of Northampton on Saturday.

Uys and van der Heijden will both miss the game at Kingston Park due to injury. The former is suffering from a groin problem picked up during the Boxing Day clash against Sale Sharks while van der Heijden has a slight knee ligament strain.

Jeremy Manning comes in on the wing with Luke Eves moving into midfield in place of Uys. Adriaan Fondse, meanwhile, is promoted to the starting XV for the first time since his move in November.

“We have got to turn things around against one of the best teams in the country but the boys know they have got what it takes,” Head Coach Alan Tait told the official Falcons website.

“It has been a real battle to get anything on the road so we have to make Kingston Park a fortress. It is a very quick turnaround against a team who will be playing a couple of notches up from what we played against at Sale.

“We will certainly have our work cut out but it is at Kingston Park and we do play well there.”

Meanwhile, Northampton number eight Roger Wilson will make his hundredth appearance for Saints.

The 30-year-old Irish international joined the Saints in the summer of 2008. In addition to his 99 appearances he has picked up winners' medals in the European Challenge Cup and LV= Cup as well as his runners-up medal in the 2011 Heineken Cup.

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that Wilson has been an important player for the Saints since his arrival at Franklin's Gardens.

“Roger is a quality player who has a positive influence on a game,” said the Saints boss.

“He has formed good partnerships with all of the other back row players and scrum-halves we have in our squad, and deserves the accolades that will come with his hundredth appearance.”

Turning his attention to the game itself, Mallinder said that the Falcons should not be underestimated whatsoever.

“Kingston Park is one of the toughest places for opposition teams to play in Aviva Premiership Rugby,” he commented.

“Newcastle have shown that by winning their last six matches at home. They've changed their squad a little bit since they played at Franklin's Gardens and brought in some players who have had a big impact. We will have to be right on top of our game on Saturday if we are to get the positive result we want.”

Form: Newcastle's only win in their last six Aviva Premiership Rugby clashes was 26-25 over Gloucester at Kingston Park in round ten. The Falcons are undefeated in their last six home games in all competitions since Leicester won 27-26 at Kingston Park on 17 September. Northampton Saints are the form team in the Premiership gaining 22 league points from their last six fixtures, and have suffered just one reversal in Aviva Premiership Rugby since the end of September: 25-30 at Leicester on 3 December. Saints have slipped to three successive away defeats in all competitions. Northampton have taken their last five encounters against Newcastle since the Falcons 19-13 victory at Franklin's Gardens on 28 February 2009.

The teams:

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

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Vasily Artemyev, 13 George Pisi, 12 James Downey, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Mark Sorenson 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Paul Doran Jones, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Christian Day, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Stephen Myler.

Date: Saturday, December 31
Venue: Kingston Park
Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth