By Thomas Branston
Welford Road (Kick-off 3pm)
Referee: Ian Tempest
Assistant Referees: Steve Lee, Tim Wigglesworth
TMO: David Sainsbury
Leicester Tigers led against Bath going into the final quarter of their Round 19 Aviva Premiership match but were undone by an Anthony Watson brace in ‘The Clash’ at Twickenham Stadium last time out.
Tigers have lost two of their last six Aviva Premiership matches, at home to Exeter in round 17 and against Bath at Twickenham last weekend and Matt O’Connors men have not lost successive home matches in the tournament since October 2011.
Newcastle Falcons narrowly beat Gloucester with a 16-14 victory at Kingston Park last Friday to end a three game losing run in Aviva Premiership. The Falcons have won just three times on the road this season, twice in Premiership, at Gloucester in round 4 and at Northampton in round 9.
Newcastle have had a tough time in recent years against Tigers only beating them once in the last eight years, a 26-14 victory at Kingston Park in February 2016. The Falcons only previous victory at Welford Road in Premiership Rugby was 25-19 on 30 December 1997, which was Newcastle’s current Director of Rugby Dean Richards’ last game playing for Tigers.
Last time these two sides met in the Aviva Premiership was back in Round 3, Tigers won by the skin of their teeth with a 14-13 at Kingston Park. Freddie Burns scored three crucial penalties to give Leicester the lead after a Fitzgerald try and a Socino score for the hosts. Hodgson then converted a late penalty to bring the score within a point and the fly-half agonisingly missed a final drop goal from close-range as clock went dead.
Leicester Tigers | 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Jack Roberts, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs (c); 1 Ellis Genge, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Dom Barrow, 5 Graham Kitchener, 6 Mike Williams, 7 Brendon O’Connor, 8 Luke Hamilton
Replacements | 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Mike Fitzgerald, 20 Harry Thacker, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Mathew Tait
Newcastle Falcons | 15 Marcus Watson, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Michael Young; 1 Rob Vickers, 2 Kyle Cooper, 3 David Wilson, 4 Calum Green, 5 Evan Olmstead, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Nili Latu
Replacements | 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Will Witty, 20 Callum Chick, 21 Sam Egerton, 22 Craig Willis, 23 Zach Kibirige