Aviva Premiership: Newcastle Falcons entertain London Wasps at Kingston Park
Newcastle will be aiming to bounce back from four consecutive defeats when they host London Wasps at Kingston Park.
Last Updated: 28/12/13 8:44pm
The Falcons have won just three matches all season, while Wasps sit two spots and 10 points clear of their rivals in the standing.
Dean Richards has made four changes to his Falcons starting line-up for this crucial home clash.
A new centre pairing of Jamie Helleur and James Fitzpatrick will take to the field, with Helleur returning to the starting XV following a lengthy spell on the side line through injury.
The Samoan international had a half-hour cameo at Exeter Chiefs last weekend to get him in the mood for the visit of Dai Young's outfit.
Warren Fury starts at scrum-half alongside Phil Godman, and skipper Will Welch is Richards' fourth and final change as he replaces Andy Saull at openside flanker.
"I'm really looking forward to the game, and there's going to be a fantastic atmosphere at Kingston Park," said Richards.
"I hear ticket sales are going really well and we're expecting a bumper crowd so in that respect I can't wait.
"We've got a big week now with Wasps tomorrow and then Sale Sharks next week. We know they are going to be tough games, but all games in this league are competitive and we're raring to go."
Wasps boss Dai Young retains faith in the same XV that were edged out 17-15 by a last-gasp Stephen Myler penalty at home to Northampton Saints last week.
"The manner of the loss last weekend was tough for us to take, losing in the last play of the game is never going to be easy, but I was very proud of the way that our boys fronted up against a very powerful Northampton outfit," said Young.
"This Friday will provide a similar test; Newcastle are a very physical side who will pose us a number of threats up front as well as in the backline, which we must meet head on."
Newcastle Falcons: 15 A Tait, 14 N Cato, 13 J Helleur, 12 J Fitzpatrick, 11 R Shortland, 10 P Godman, 9 W Fury, 1 R Vickers, 2 S Lawson, 3 K Brookes, 4 C del Fava, 5 F McKenzie, 6 R Mayhew, 7 W Welch, 8 A Hogg.
Replacements: 16 G McGuigan 17 F Montanella, 18 O Tomaszczyk, 19 S Tomes, 20 M Wilson, 21 C Pilgrim, 22 R Clegg, 23 D Barnes.
London Wasps: 15 E Daly, 14 W Helu, 13 C Bell (c), 12 C Hayter, 11 T Varndell, 10 A Goode, 9 C Davies, 1 M Mullan, 2 C Festuccia, 3 J Cooper-Woolley, 4 T Palmer, 5 J Launchbury, 6 A Johnson, 7 J Haskell, 8 S Jones.
Replacements: 16 T Lindsay, 17 T Vea, 18 P Swainston, 19 J Cannon, 20 E Jackson, 21 J Simpson, 22 J Carlisle, 23 A Suniula.