Alex Tait is set to make one last appearance at Kingston Park Stadium on Friday night as Newcastle Falcons play their final home game of the season, hosting Northampton Saints.
The 7.45pm Gallagher Premiership kick-off sees Tait named among the replacements, with the full-back poised to add to his 269 appearances before retiring at the end of the campaign.
Newcastle make three changes to the side which started at Harlequins last weekend – fit-again Argentina international Matias Orlando starting in the centres with Ben Stevenson ruled out by a head knock.
Logovi’i Mulipola packs down at loose-head prop, with Freddie Lockwood added to the back row after scoring from the bench last time out. Philip van der Walt and Tom Penny are both on the bench after recovering from hand and ankle injuries respectively.
The Falcons were on the wrong end of a 32-31 thriller when they faced Northampton in league action earlier in the season, with interim head coach Mark Laycock expecting another full-blooded encounter.
Newcastle Falcons team v Northampton Saints (Friday, 7.45pm, Kingston Park, live on BT Sport)
15 Elliott Obatoyinbo, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Matias Orlando, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Michael Young (captain); 1 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Pedro Rubiolo, 7 Freddie Lockwood, 8 Callum Chick.
Replacements: 16 Conrad Cade, 17 Adam Brocklebank, 18 Conor Kenny, 19 Philip van der Walt, 20 Carl Fearns, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Tom Penny, 23 Alex Tait.
Director of Rugby Phil Dowson has made two changes to his Northampton Saints side which will travel to Newcastle Falcons on Friday evening.
The men in Black, Green and Gold will be desperate for a second straight victory after last weekend’s win over Saracens, to keep themselves ahead of London Irish in the race for the Gallagher Premiership play-offs.
Saints have won just once on the road in the league this term, but have lost only one of their last five fixtures against the Falcons in the Premiership, and beat Newcastle by a single point (32-31) earlier this term on home soil.
Tom Collins comes in to start on the wing for Northampton for the 12th time this season, replacing the injured James Ramm in the back three. George Furbank continues at fullback with Tommy Freeman – who has scored in four of his past five Premiership appearances – selected on the other wing.
Dowson opts for an unchanged midfield pairing for Northampton, with Fraser Dingwall (winner of the Club’s Supporters’ Player of the Season Award on Wednesday evening) and Rory Hutchinson named in the centres, while Fin Smith and Alex Mitchell keep their places in the half-back berths.
There’s just one change in the pack as Paul Hill starts at tighthead prop after coming off the bench last weekend, with hooker Sam Matavesi and loosehead Alex Waller rounding off the front row.
NEWCASTLE FALCONS vs NORTHAMPTON SAINTS
Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Round 23
Friday 21 April 2023
15 George Furbank
14 Tom Collins
13 Fraser Dingwall
12 Rory Hutchinson
11 Tommy Freeman
10 Fin Smith
9 Alex Mitchell
1 Alex Waller
2 Sam Matavesi
3 Paul Hill
4 David Ribbans
5 Alex Moon
6 Courtney Lawes
7 Lewis Ludlam (c)
8 Juarno Augustus
16 Tom Cruse
17 Ethan Waller
18 Alfie Petch
19 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
20 Angus Scott-Young
21 Sam Graham
22 Tom James
23 Tom Litchfield