Newcastle Falcons v Leeds Carnegie preview

Newcastle Falcons and Leeds Carnegie played out a 9-all draw when they met at Headingley Carnegie in round 1, whilst Leeds’ only win at Kingston Park was 28-25 in the Premiership on 15 February 2004.

Newcastle Falcons have won just one of their last four matches: 17-6 at home to Montauban in the Amlin Challenge Cup on 10 December.

Falcons’ only win at Kingston Park in their last six Guinness Premiership fixtures there was 14-3 over Worcester Warriors on 1 November.

Leeds Carnegie secured home and away victories over Bucuresti Oaks in the European Challenge Cup over the past two weeks, but in the Guinness Premiership the Yorkshiremen’s only win since March 2008 remains the 15-9 victory at London Wasps on 1 November.


Newcastle boss Steve Bates has finalised his Falcons side for Sunday’s Guinness Premiership visit of Leeds Carnegie to Kingston Park).


Having named his team a day early the director has settled on his bench for the northern derby, with Leeds’ record try-scorer Tom Biggs named among the Newcastle replacements.


Previewing the holiday clash, Bates said: “We’re welcoming back a few guys from little niggles, and we’re pretty happy with where we are injury-wise at the moment.”


Asked the significance of Sunday’s clash in the context of the season, the former England scrum half replied: “It’s an important game, but it’s just one of 22 important games in this competition and for us there is no greater emphasis on this than any of our other matches.


“It’s a big Guinness Premiership game that we will prepare fully for, but we have Wasps and Gloucester afterwards and exactly the same goes for both of those matches.


“The main thing for us is that we have three games in the next fortnight to really try and cement our place in the top half of the table, but we’re not targeting any one match more than the others.”


Having drawn 9-9 when the two sides met on opening day, Bates said: “Leeds are a strong Premiership side who have come close in a lot of their games and had a very notable win down at Wasps, as well as obviously drawing with ourselves, so we know we can’t take them lightly.


“Looking back at the tapes of that game this week, you could see we were still very much in the early stages of our development.


“We’re a much better team now, the progress we have made has been pretty good overall and we hope we can continue that into Sunday’s game. I should add that Leeds have also improved from the start of the season, we’re expecting a real battle and everyone is pumped up for that challenge.


With the club welcoming a record crowd having already passed the mark of 6,522 which was in attendance for the visit of Northampton last month, Bates said: “It’s massively important for the club that our supporters get behind us, which, to be fair, they have really done for this game.


“Sunday will be our biggest crowd of the season, the corporate areas are totally sold out and there are only a few places left for people wanting seats.


“That’s great news for everybody at the club on the back of a lot of hard work behind the scenes, and from a players’ point of view when they run out and see a packed stadium it is something which will really excite them and just give the game that extra buzz.”


Speaking ahead of naming his team Leeds Carnegie Director of Rugby Andy Key spoke of how important the upcoming two matches are and said,”First and foremost we have a tough game up at Newcastle.


“They are a strong side with good combinations in their half backs and a tough pack led by Carl Haym

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