Newcastle v Cardiff LV= Cup preview

Newcastle Falcons will unleash some of their big guns for Saturday’s Anglo Welsh LV= Cup showdown with Cardiff Blues at Kingston Park.

Fresh from his World Cup exploits down under, Scotland international Euan Murray starts in the front row while giant lock Andrew van der Heijden gets the nod in the engine room.

Goal-kicking sensation Jimmy Gopperth will don the familiar No. 10 jersey with fellow Kiwi Jeremy Manning returning to the back division following a lengthy spell on the sideline.

Manning will form a mouth-watering centre combination with new South African signing Corne Uys as head coach Alan Tait eyes successive victories on home soil.

Tait makes seven further changes to the side that went down fighting at Saracens in the Aviva Premiership last week.

Rikki Sheriffe and Luke Eves occupy both wings while Jordi Pasqualin, an Anglo Welsh LV= Cup winner with Gloucester last term is handed a chance to impress at scrum-half.

In the front-row Darren Fearn and Michael Mayhew partner Murray while last season’s Academy Player of the Season Mark Wilson comes in for Richard Mayhew at flanker.

Murray’s tantalising inclusion in the Falcons starting XV is real positive sign of intent by the Falcons, who were beaten finalists last time out.

Falcons boss Tait said: “He is one of the best scrummagers in the world, and Mickey Ward has got a smile on his face as front-row coach because he knows like me that great players make a great difference.

“I am expecting the scrum to be a solid base for us to attack from, and Euan will be a key part of that.”

Newcastle kick-started their domestic campaign with a hard-fought triumph over London Wasps a fortnight ago, a result which has revitalised the side according to Tait.

“We are starting to click, we still have players to come into the team and I am really excited with how we can kick-on,” said Tait.

“I have always said that I am keen to get a Newcastle Falcons style of rugby, so that everybody knows when the Falcons turn up they are going to get a certain type of game.

“Against Leicester and Exeter we put on some good stuff, and even last weekend against Saracens – who are the best team in the country – I was thrilled with how we played at times,” he added.

Meanwhile, Cardiff Blues Coaches Gareth Baber and Justin Burnell have named a young team for their first LV=Cup match of the season.

Reflecting on last weekend’s match, Baber said,”Certain aspects of our performance in Aironi were pleasing, in terms of putting pressure on them when we had ball in hand, we’d looked at areas to improve and executed them well in the first half.”

“Obviously we were a bit disappointed that we let the tries in.”

“We wanted to keep out the opposition and unfortunately we put ourselves in a situation where we’ve given them four tries.”

With the six weeks of RaboDirect Pro 12 window at an end, Baber feels that there were one or two games that the team didn’t perform.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that the Glasgow game was one where we targeted in getting a win and we failed badly.”

“That was our biggest failure in six matches.”

“Had we got those points we’d be in the top two or three.”

“We find ourselves in fourth place, which isn’t bad when you take into account the players we have to come back into system.”

“I suppose another game missed was Munster at home.”

“When we reflected on it, it was a game that we played some good stuff and maybe tried to play a bit too much rugby.”

“We had three decisions referred to the TMO, a penalty under the sticks and a last gasp forward pass that could have won us the game.”

“There have been aspects that have been frustrating but there have been some real positives come out of the first six weeks. It’s our aim to keep that going.”

Looking ahead to the LV=Cup match agai

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