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Falcons v L Irish: Teams
At Kingston Park, Sunday November 16, kick-off 3pm
Newcastle Falcons have handed a starting debut to new signing Tane Tu'ipulotu for the visit of London Irish to Kingston Park on Sunday.
The Tongan arrival makes his Falcons bow after helping Wellington Lions to Ranfurly Shield glory and the final of the Air New Zealand Cup last month, with the 27-year-old Junior All Black starting at inside centre.
Elsewhere in the side there are only two further changes from the team which lost by just one point to Gloucester in their last outing, with Andy Long replacing Rob Vickers at hooker and an ankle injury seeing Rory Clegg come in for Rob Miller at fly half.
"Tane has been here two weeks now, and the initial impressions are all very good ones," head coach Steve Bates said.
"I think people have to be patient because it will certainly take him time to get used to the Guinness Premiership and to playing with a totally new team, but that process starts this weekend.
"Before he even arrived in England he had downloaded and watched all of our games over the internet, so he's up to speed in that regard and aware of what game we are trying to play.
"What I have seen from him in training has backed up everything we thought when we were looking to sign him, and he has shown himself to be an extremely talented footballer. He links up well, brings other people in to play and I've been really impressed with his communication.
"Having that experience is important especially with a young fly half, and the partnership between him and Rory Clegg looks like being a good one based on what we have seen on the training field so far."
International commitments mean that London Irish make five personnel and one positional change to the starting line-up of the team that defeated the Ospreys a fortnight ago.
Among the backs Shane Geraghty switches to inside centre to allow Mike Catt to start at fly-half whilst James Bailey comes in on the left wing.
In the pack there is a new combination in the second row where Kieran Roche and Nick Kennedy start together for the first time this season. Declan Danaher comes into the team at open side flanker.
"We return to the serious business of the Guinness Premiership this week with a difficult away fixture in Newcastle," said Irish head coach Toby Booth.
"We want to take the positive momentum of recent weeks into the next rounds of the Premiership and European Challenge Cup."
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Steve Jones, 14 Danny Williams, 13 Tom May, 12 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 11 John Rudd, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Hall Charlton; 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Brent Wilson, 6 Ed Williamson, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Micky Ward, 2 Andy Long, 1 Jon Golding.
Replacements: 16 Rob Vickers, 17 David Wilson, 18 Ross Beattie, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Tom Dillon, 21 James Grindal, 22 Spencer Davey.
London Irish: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Elvis Seveali'i, 12 Shane Geraghty, 11 James Bailey, 10 Mike Catt, (c) 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Chris Hala'Ufia, 7 Declan Danaher, 6 Richard Thorpe, 5 Kieran Roche, 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Faan Rautenbach, 2 David Paice, 1 Clarke Dermody.
Replacements: 16 Tonga Lea'aetoa, 17 James Buckland, 18 Alex Corbisiero, 19 Gary Johnson, 20 Steffon Armitage, 21 Alfredo Lalanne, 22 Charlie Gower.
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|Friday 2nd January|
|19:45||Northampton vs Newcastle Falcons|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Saracens vs London Irish|
|16:30||Exeter vs Gloucester|
|Sunday 4th January|
|14:00||Wasps vs Sale|
|14:00||Leicester Tigers vs Bath|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Harlequins|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Saracens|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:00||Sale vs Northampton|
|15:00||Bath vs Wasps|
|15:15||Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Newcastle Falcons vs London Welsh|
|15:00||London Irish vs Exeter|
|Saturday 14th February|
|15:00||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|15:00||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Northampton vs London Irish|
|Sunday 15th February|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|15:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|Friday 20th February|
|20:00||Newcastle vs Wasps|
|Saturday 21st February|
|14:00||Sale vs Saracens|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Exeter|
|15:00||London Irish vs Leicester|
|15:00||Bath vs Northampton|
|15:00||Gloucester vs London Welsh|
|Saturday 28th February|
|14:30||London Welsh vs London Irish|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com