Newcastle v Tigers: Teams
At Kingston Park, Friday April 22, kick-off 6pm
By Jessica Bridge. Last Updated: 21/04/11 3:00pm
Gopperth: Stand-in skipper
Following the bonus points loss to Northampton last week, Newcastle remain confident of Aviva Premiership survival ahead of the visit of Leicester.
The Falcons had gone into the game against the Saints bottom of the table - and although Chris Ashton's late try saw them despite miss out on two much-needed points, the bonus point ensured they climbed above Leeds.
And for Friday's crucial game at Kingston Park, the Falcons have made three changes to the line up - with Samoan lock Filipo Levi starting ahead of Tim Swinson, the No.13 jersey being handed to Rob Vickerman and Luke Fielden coming in on the wing.
That means Chris Pilgrim will remain at scrum-half despite Micky Young, who will move to Leicester in the summer, returning to the squad.
And temporary captain Jimmy Gopperth is relishing at the prospect of taking on the reigning Premiership champions on Good Friday.
"It is a good challenge for us, and one that we have been looking forward to," he said.
"That was the case last week against Northampton and, like that game, we will give it a good crack."
"Newcastle is a tough trip but we have been very consistent through the season and we want to maintain those high standards.
Richard Cockerill Quotes of the week
High-flying Leicester, who have already qualified for the end-of-season play-offs, have made eight changes to the line-up with players' player of the year Anthony Allen returning to the centre to partner Manu Tuilagi.
Jeremy Staunton, James Grindal, Matt Smith, Ed Slater, Craig Newby, George Chuter and Marcos Ayerza also return to the line-up - with England backs Toby Flood and Ben Youngs among the players rested.
And Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill is keen though not to wear out his squad ahead of the play-offs.
"A couple of the guys have been nursing a few little niggling injuries and we have to look after the ones like Toby and Ben who have played a lot of rugby recently, as we did with Craig Newby and Anth Allen last week," he explained.
"Newcastle is a tough trip but we have been very consistent through the season and we want to maintain those high standards."
Newcastle: 15 Tom Catterick, 14 Alex Tait, 13 Rob Vickerman, 12 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 11 Luke Fielden, 10, Jimmy Gopperth (c), 9 Chris Pilgrim, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Andrew van der Heijden, 4 Filipo Levi, 3 Euan Murrary, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Jonny Golding.
Replacements: 16 Rob Vickers, 17 Grant Shiells, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Alex Gray, 21 Micky Young, 22 Luke Eves, 23 Gcobani Bobo.
Leicester: 15 Scott Hamilton, 14 Matt Smith, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Anthony Allen, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Jeremy Staunton, 9 James Grindal, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Craig Newby (c), 6 Tom Croft, 5 George Skivington, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Bob Hawkins, 17 Boris Stankovich, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Calum Green, 20 Ben Woods, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Billy Twelvetrees, 23 Horacio Agulla.