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Newcastle v L Irish: Teams
At Kingston Park, Sunday April 13, kick-off 3pm
Newcastle will look to upset the odds when they entertain London Irish at Kingston Park.
The Exiles have cut a swathe through Europe to reach the Heineken Cup semi-final, however the Falcons will be in no mood to let them have things their own way when they return to domestic action.
Falcons chief Steve Bates has made five changes to the side that beat Castres in the European Challenge Cup, with three of them coming in the pack.
David Wilson, Andy Long and Brent Wilson are named in the forwards, with Carl Hayman, Matt Thompson and Ben Woods missing out.
In the backs, an ankle injury to Jamie Noon and Toby Flood means Tom Dillon and Steve Jones start in the centres.
On the bench, 19-year-old scrum-half Micky Young could make his debut after impressing for the A team.
Bates said: "Tom Dillon put in a very strong performance in coming on for Jamie Noon against Castres so that was a pretty straightforward decision, and then Steve Jones has fared well at inside centre this season when he has been asked to play there.
"Toby Flood just had a slight ankle problem which has been bugging him all week, and in view of upcoming games we just deemed it prudent to give him some extra recovery time. Both he and Jamie Noon were very close to playing in this game, but we felt it just wasn't worth the risk.
"In the front row Carl Hayman has played pretty much 80 minutes in every game since he arrived in the autumn, and in Davey Wilson we have a ready-made replacement who is extremely talented and determined to get some game time.
"We have to be careful that we look after our players, but Davey is right up there in the pecking order for young English props, and it is only right that he gets his chance."
London Irish are determined to keep that winning feeling among their side as they prepare to face Newcastle.
Although the Exiles are into the last four of this season Heineken Cup, they still need to pick up as many points as possible in the league to ensure they play in the 2008-09 tournament.
"Having experienced the exceptional atmosphere of last Saturday's Heineken Cup quarter-final we're more determined than ever to ensure we qualify for next year's tournament," said London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith.
"With four Premiership games to play we believe we can secure a sufficiently high league position to be among the qualifiers.
"We need to retain the positive momentum of last week's good performance and maintain a winning culture as we go into these last games.
"Sunday's game is very important if we are to succeed in reaching our objective.
The Exiles have made six changes to the line-up with Shane Geraghty, Eoghan Hickey, Danie Coetzee, Tonga Lea'aetoa, James Hudson and Richard Thorpe all returning.
Newcastle: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Tom May, 13 Tom Dillon, 12 Steve Jones, 11 John Rudd, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 James Grindal, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Brent Wilson, 6 Andy Buist, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Andy Perry, 3 David Wilson, 2 Andy Long, 1 Micky Ward.
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 Carl Hayman, 18 Geoff Parling, 19 Russell Winter, 20 Ed Williamson, 21 Micky Young, 22 Tim Visser.
London Irish: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Seilala Mapusua, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Eoghan Hickey, 9 Paul Hodgson, 1 Tonga Lea'aetoa, 2 Danie Coetzee, 3 Faan Rautenbach, 4 James Hudson, 5 Bob Casey, 6 Declan Danaher, 7 Richard Thorpe, 8 Phil Murphy.
Replacements:16 Dan Murphy, 17 David Paice, 18 Nick Kennedy, 19 Juan Leguizamon, 20 Steffon Armitage, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Tomas De Vedia.
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|Friday 13th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|19:45||Northampton vs London Irish|
|Saturday 14th February|
|16:30||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|13:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|Friday 20th February|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Wasps|
|Saturday 21st February|
|14:00||Sale vs Saracens|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Exeter|
|15:00||Gloucester vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Bath vs Northampton|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|14:00||London Irish vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th February|
|19:45||Leicester vs Sale|
|19:45||Northampton vs Harlequins|
|Saturday 28th February|
|14:30||London Welsh vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Newcastle|
|15:15||Exeter vs Bath|
|Sunday 1st March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Gloucester|
|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Leicester|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle 38 - 7 London Welsh|
|Saturday 10th January|
|Harlequins 32 - 12 Leicester|
|Bath 39 - 26 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 20 - 7 Northampton|
|Friday 9th January|
|Gloucester 24 - 23 Saracens|
|Sunday 4th January|
|London Welsh 13 - 24 Harlequins|
|Wasps 41 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Leicester 17 - 8 Bath|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|Exeter 25 - 26 Gloucester|
|Saracens 22 - 6 London Irish|
|Friday 2nd January|
|Northampton 39 - 31 Newcastle|
|Sunday 28th December|
|Gloucester 23 - 30 Wasps|
|Saturday 27th December|
|Harlequins 25 - 30 Northampton|
|Newcastle 23 - 25 Saracens|
|Bath 31 - 14 Exeter|
|Sale Sharks 30 - 32 Leicester|
|Friday 26th December|
|London Irish 24 - 9 London Welsh|
|Sunday 21st December|
|Wasps 48 - 16 London Irish|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale 18 - 11 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com