Newcastle make five changes for Jonny’s return

Newcastle Falcons have made five changes to the side that defeated Gloucester for Thursday’s Amlin Challenge Cup showdown with Toulon.


Jamie Helleur partners James Fitzpatrick at outside centre while Luke Eves gets the nod on the wing in place of Suka Hufanga. Joe Graham replaces Michael Mayhew at hooker while there are starts for Mark Wilson and Richard Mayhew.


The Falcons have made a blistering start to their European campaign with victories over Lyon at home and Petrarca away.


Alan Tait’s men will be hoping to make it three wins out of three as they look to challenge for a place in the knockout stages. Last weekend’s 26-25 victory against Gloucester in the league at Kingston Park made it five games unbeaten on home soil.


“I have told them over the next fortnight that I am going to mix it up and throw a few lads in to keep the squad fresh,” said Tait who is aiming to stretch the unbeaten run to six games.


He added: “Then comes the Sale game on Boxing Day and it is all in the mixer as to who gets in for the Premiership return.


“I have told this team for some time now that they are a good one, and we have added quality players on top of that as we have gone on.”


Skipper James Hudson, believes the fans have played a crucial part in helping his side maintain their home form, saying: “The core of our fans have been incredible both home and away – at home they have been nothing short of fantastic.


“The support that we have had has been huge and very much appreciated by the whole squad.”


Newcastle welcome a Toulon outfit littered with an abundance of talent and Hudson is relishing the prospect of his unit testing themselves against some of the best players in world rugby.


“It is a big chance to show everyone what we are about and it is a big chance to continue our good form at home,” said the Sutton Coldfield lock.


“We will be doing everything we can to try and extend this run to six games,” added Hudson.


Hard-hitting centre James Fitzpatrick who will earn his third consecutive start in the colors of the Falcons is itching to walk out onto the Kingston Park turf.


He said: “I am really looking forward to the Toulon game and I can’t wait to play some more rugby. “I think in the European competition we have been playing with a lot more freedom and we are certainly playing more open rugby.


“The fans have been amazing and even for the away games they turn up in their droves.”


Match : Newcastle Falcons vs Toulon
Venue : Kingston Park
Kick Off: 7.45pm
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)


Teams


Newcastle Falcons: G Goosen; L Eves, J Helleur, J Fitzpatrick, R Shortland; J Gopperth, J Pasqualin; G Shiells, J Graham, E Murray, J Hudson [capt], A Van der Heijden, M Wilson, W Welch, R Mayhew


Replacements: A Wells, D Fearn, D Frazier, T Tuifua, A Hogg, W Chudley, C Pilgrim, T Catterick


Toulon: L Rooney; J Sinzelle, M Bastareaud, G Messina, B Lapeyre; J Dumora, L Magnaval; E Lewis-Roberts, J Orioli, C Hayman, K Mikautadze, D Schofield, P Gunther, J El Abd [capt], S Rokobaro


Replacements: M Ivaldi, X Chiocci, L Chilachava, A Faosiliva, B Bonnet, J Wilkinson, A Palisson, C Samson

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