Aviva Premiership: Newcastle Falcons take on Leicester Tigers on Sunday

Last updated: 2nd March 2014  

Lee Smith

Lee Smith: Will make his Newcastle debut on the wing

 Manu Tuilagi Leicester Tigers

Manu Tuilagi: Begins his Tigers comeback following a chest injury

Leicester will be a big test for us and we will have to be on top form in order to get anything out of the game.

Newcastle head coach Peter Russell
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Leicester Tigers will be aiming to extend their unbeaten Aviva Premiership run to six matches when they travel to Newcastle on Sunday.

The visitors will be favourites to pick up maximum points at Kingston Park as they look to consolidate fourth position in the standings.

Falcons have been defeated in their last nine Aviva encounters and are closing in fast on their worst run in the competition, which was 11 straight defeats during 2011.

England centre Manu Tuilagi will begin his comeback from a chest injury that has sidelined him since September.

Tuilagi partners Dan Bowden in midfield, with Vereneki Goneva moving to the wing. The only changes up-front see starts for England hooker Tom Youngs and Argentina international flanker Pablo Matera.

"Manu has been unlucky with the injury and he's just had to be patient. But he has been training well, he's been able to do all his running and conditioning while the injury has healed and he's raring to go again," said boss Richard Cockerill.

Newcastle debut

Meanwhile, Rugby league recruit Lee Smith makes his Newcastle debut on the wing a fortnight after joining from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, while half-backs Phil Godman and Mike Blair also start, together with centre Adam Powell.

Scotland hooker Scott Lawson, meanwhile, returns from Six Nations duty, and prop Kieran Brookes and flanker Andy Saull also feature.

"Week in, week out we have gradually been getting stronger and we could have and most probably should have beaten Quins down at their place a couple of weeks ago," said head coach Peter Russell.

"Leicester will be a big test for us and we will have to be on top form in order to get anything out of the game.

"It's important that we continue with the energy that we showed against Northampton in the second half. It's all about our attitude and preparations have been going well throughout the week and in the last three games we've probably played 60 minutes of good rugby in each," added the Kiwi coach.

Newcastle: 15 Tait, 14 Cato, 13 Tiesi, 12 Powell, 11 Smith, 10 Godman, 9 Blair, 1 Vickers, 2 Lawson, 3 Brookes, 4 MacLeod, 5 McKenzie, 6 Welch (c), 7 Saull, 8 Wilson.

Replacements: 16 McGuigan, 17 Strain, 18 Tomaszczyk, 19 Tomes, 20 York, 21 Fury, 22 Hodgson, 23 Barnes.

Leicester: 15 Tait, 14 Scully, 13 Tuilagi, 12 Bowden, 11 Goneva, 10 Williams, 9 Youngs, 1 Ayerza, 2 Youngs, 3 Mulipola, 4 Deacon, 5 Slater (c), 6 Gibson, 7 Matera, 8 Crane.

Replacements: 16 Briggs, 17 Stankovich, 18 Balmain, 19 De Chaves, 20 Waldrom, 21 Mele, 22 Flood, 23 Thompstone.