Planet Rugby

Preview: Leicester v Newcastle

03rd February 2012 09:16

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Worcester v Leicester Toby Flood

Toby Flood: On Leicester's replacements bench

Leicester Tigers have named 11 internationals in their squad for Saturday's LV= Cup clash with Newcastle Falcons at Welford Road.

Victory in the round four match would secure top spot in pool two and give the Tigers a place in the semi-finals of the cup competition for the first time since 2008.

Horacio Agulla, Anthony Allen and Jeremy Staunton return to the Tigers back-line, and there are recalls for Marcos Ayerza, George Chuter, Julian White and Steve Mafi amongst the forwards, plus Thomas Waldrom is also included after he was released from England training this week.

Ben Woods, who led Leicester to victory at Harlequins in Round three, will captain the team at Welford Road for the first time.

Craig Newby is included in the senior squad for the first time since leading the team in last season's Aviva Premiership Final following his recovery from a knee injury, and fly-half Toby Flood is back in the matchday squad after a hamstring injury.

Director of rugby Richard Cockerill, who saw a young side win at Harlequins in Round three last weekend, is without four players on international duty with England and Martin Castrogiovanni is away with Italy.

Billy Twelvetrees and Ed Slater are with England Saxons and George Ford is captaining the England U20s.

Meanwhile, Newcastle Falcons have made three changes to their starting XV as new director of rugby Gary Gold targets back-to-back victories.

Gold, who guided his side to a comprehensive 37-7 triumph over Sale Sharks last weekend, has thrown Jonny Golding into the mix after five months out with persistent achilles problems.

Golding starts in the front-row after tasting the final 15 minutes of last Sunday's thumping win at home and is a welcome boost for the northeasterners going into the business end of the campaign.

Fellow props Dan Frazier and Grant Shiells miss out with respective back problems with the latter expected to return for next weekend's Aviva Premiership showdown at Bath.

Greg Goosen returns to full-back after three weeks out with a cyst in his calf while points machine Jimmy Gopperth moves back to his favoured fly-half berth.

Richard Mayhew rounds off the changes with the English qualified Kiwi getting the nod in the back-row. Samoan Jamie Helleur has a place on the bench after being sidelined with a finger injury.

Sitting on 10 points, four points behind the Scarlets in their pool, Newcastle have a mathematical chance of progressing through to the semi-finals.

"What was encouraging against Sale was not the fact that we won the game but it was the fact that we put things into place in a very short space of time," said former Springboks assistant coach Gold.

"It gave me some reward that we are improving but I am at pains to say that we still have a lot of work to do.

"All last week has done is make opposition teams stand up and take notice and think that they must go hard at Newcastle.

"We will have to live with that pressure and there is no better test than this weekend at Welford Road and we will be measuring ourselves against a top team away from home."

Just hours after the Falcons put Sale to the sword with a devastating attacking display, the club announced that former England forwards coach John Wells had joined the backroom team.

Wells is reunited with talented defence coach Mike Ford on Tyneside whom he worked with during his six year stint at Twickenham.

Gold is delighted to have got his man.

"When I was approached to become director of rugby at Newcastle I definitely wanted to bring these two guys [John Wells and Mike Ford] with me and as John told the website it is going to be like knock-out rugby from now until the end of the season."

The teams:

Leicester: 15 Niall Morris, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Matt Smith, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Scott Hamilton, 10 Jeremy Staunton, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Ben Woods (c), 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 George Skivington, 3 Julian White, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Logoviii Mulipola, 18 Ryan Bower, 19 Craig Newby, 20 Julian Salvi, 21 James Grindal, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Andy Forsyth.

Newcastle: 15 Greg Goosen, 14 Ryan Shortland, 13 Corne Uys, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Suka Hufanga, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Chris Pilgrim, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Richard Mayhew, 6 Ally Hogg, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 James Hall, 2 Rob Vickers, 1 Jonny Golding.
Replacements: 16 Joe Graham, 17 Darren Fearn, 18 Ashley Wells, 19 Richard Boyle, 20 Taiasina Tu'ifua, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Jamie Helleur, 23 Joel Hodgson.

Date: Saturday, February 4
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Welford Road

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