Newcastle Falcons change 12 for London Irish

Newcastle Falcons have made 12 changes to their team for Sunday’s Guinness Premiership trip to London Irish.

Looking to consolidate their top-half-of-the-league position after successive wins over Bath and Worcester, director of rugby Steve Bates has recalled a host of his frontline players for the Madejski Stadium clash.

Club captain Carl Hayman, England Saxons prop Jon Golding and hooker Rob Vickers all return in the front row, with former Exile James Hudson in at lock against his old club.

Adam Balding packs down at No.8 in a new-look back row, as Will Welch returns on the openside flank and Tim Swinson moves back from the second row to the blindside.

England Saxon Micky Young returns at scrum half as he picks up his half-back partnership with Junior All Black Jimmy Gopperth, while in the centres the power-packed partnership of Tane Tu’ipulotu and Rob Vickerman is re-united.

Charlie Amesbury is brought in on the left wing, while Alex Tait returns from injury at fullback in the only other change as the Falcons look to record their third consecutive Guinness Premiership victory.

Speaking ahead of the game, director of rugby Steve Bates said: “Having climbed into the top half of the Guinness Premiership table, there is a huge determination within this group to really use that as a launch pad to attack the remainder of this season.

“We welcome back a number of players this week who have been rested from Cup action, and they have used that time to work on aspects of their personal preparation which they would not perhaps have the scope to do in a full match week.

“As a result the boys are really refreshed, desperate to get back into the action and it should be a cracking game down in Reading.”

Expecting a tough test from the Exiles, Bates added: “We were well beaten down there last season, and that game served as a huge reality check for us as we won the subsequent six matches and really turned our campaign around.

“Even without some of their internationals or injured stars London Irish remain a very dangerous side, led by an outstanding coach in Toby Booth, and we know we will have to be absolutely on top of our game to put ourselves in with a chance of taking the points.”

Newcastle Falcons team to face London Irish:

15 Alex Tait, 14 Danny Williams, 13 Rob Vickerman, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Micky Young,1 Jon Golding, 2 Rob Vickers
3 Carl Hayman (captain), 4 James Hudson, 5 Mark Sorenson, 6 Tim Swinson, 7 Will Welch, 8 Adam Balding

Replacements:16 Alex Walker, 17 Micky Ward, 18 Laurence Ovens, 19 Josh Afu, 20 Ed Williamson, 21 Hall Charlton, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Gcobani Bobo

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