Newcastle Falcons vs Cardiff Blues preview

Newcastle Falcons host Sale Sharks at Kingston Park

Newcastle Falcons will welcome back England Saxons scrum half Micky Young to their side for Sunday’s Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final against Cardiff Blues at Kingston Park on Sunday.

Young returns as the Falcons look to reach the European semi-finals, having recovered from the back injury which kept him out of last weekend’s trip to Harlequins.

Alex Tait returns from ankle trouble to slot in at fullback with Charlie Amesbury moving to take Gcobani Bobo’s place on the wing, as the South African switches to outside centre with Rob Vickerman ruled out by a groin injury.

In the pack Filipo Levi starts in the second row as the injured Tim Swinson misses out, whilst the back row sees the return of Brent Wilson at blindside with the Falcons looking to build on their last home result – a 25-13 league win over Gloucester.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s clash, director of rugby Steve Bates said: “It’s a great occasion for us to be involved in, hosting a top class side like Cardiff Blues in a big European quarter-final.

“The players are all excited by the challenge, and hopefully it will capture the imagination of the North-East sporting public because this is a massive chance for us to continue down the path towards silverware and a place in next season’s Heineken Cup.”

Having already played the Blues once this season in Anglo Welsh LV= Cup action, Bates said: “I don’t think either side will have really gleaned too much from that game to be totally honest, because both clubs took the opportunity to mix their squads up on that occasion.

“But we are still well aware of what quality Cardiff have from studying the tapes of their recent games, and when you look down their squad list there is certainly no shortage of international quality with a host of Wales, Lions and All Black caps in there.

“That in itself is a great motivation for our players, because they will want to test themselves against guys of that calibre and prove that they deserve to be in that sort of company on a more regular basis. “

“We will probably start as underdogs in many people’s eyes, but we’re coming out to attack and to hopefully put on a show for the crowd on what is a major high-profile game for the region.”

Cardiff Blues Director of Rugby David Young says that he is not underestimating the challenge that Newcastle Falcons will bring in the quarter final.

“I’m confident going into the game”, said Young.

“However, we know how difficult Newcastle are to play against, especially up there. Not many teams go there and play a lot of rugby. Matches at Kingston Park always end in tight scores.”

“They play a good kicking game and have got a strong driving line out and I imagine this is a game they will be relishing.”

With a route into next season’s Heineken Cup for the winners Young knows his side must put in a big performance against a stubborn Newcastle side.

“We want to win any competition we are in and would love to go all the way and win it. It’s an added bonus that there is Heineken Cup qualification at the end of it,” added Young.

“The intensity and tempo of the training this week has been good and the players are looking forward to it. Our focus has been on the Magners so it’s refreshing that we can now concentrate on a Cup competition.”

Match Amlin Challenge Cup
Teams : Newcastle Falcons vs Cardiff Blues
Venue : Kingston Park
Kick Off: 3pm


Newcastle Falcons :15 Alex Tait , 14 Danny Williams , 13 Gcobani Bobo , 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 Filipo Levi , 6 Brent Wilson , 7 Ed Williamson , 8 Josh Afu

Replacements:Alex Walker , Micky Ward , Grant Shiells , Mark Sorenso

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