Newcastle v Cardiff: Teams
At Kingston Park, Sunday April 11, kick-off 3.00pm
By Rachel Griffiths. Last Updated: 09/04/10 4:12pm
Young: Named in starting XV
England Saxons scrum-half Micky Young returns to the Newcastle Falcons side to host Cardiff Blues for Sunday's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final clash.
Young makes his comeback from a back injury that kept him out of last weekend's Guinness Premiership defeat to Harlequins as Falcons target the European semi-finals.
Alex Tait returns at full-back after shaking off an ankle injury, while Charlie Amesbury moves to replace Gcobani Bobo on the wing.
South African Bobo steps in at outside centre for Rob Vickerman, who is ruled out with a groin injury.
Changes to the pack see Filipo Levi start in the second row in place of injured Tim Swinson, while Brent Wilson returns at blindside in the back row as Falcons look to expand on their last home result - a 25-13 league victory over Gloucester.
"It's a great occasion for us to be involved in, hosting a top class side like Cardiff Blues in a big European quarter-final," said Falcons director of rugby Steve Bates.
"The players are all excited by the challenge, and hopefully it will capture the imagination of the North-East sporting public because this is a massive chance for us to continue down the path towards silverware and a place in next season's Heineken Cup."
Falcons lost to Cardiff 45-24 earlier this year in LV= Cup action, but Bates insists the true standard of both teams could not be gauged from that match.
"I don't think either side will have really gleaned too much from that game to be totally honest, because both clubs took the opportunity to mix their squads up on that occasion," he said.
"But we are still well aware of what quality Cardiff have from studying the tapes of their recent games, and when you look down their squad list there is certainly no shortage of international quality with a host of Wales, Lions and All Black caps in there.
"That in itself is a great motivation for our players, because they will want to test themselves against guys of that calibre and prove that they deserve to be in that sort of company on a more regular basis.
"We will probably start as underdogs in many people's eyes, but we're coming out to attack and to hopefully put on a show for the crowd on what is a major high-profile game for the region."
Cardiff Blues director of rugby Dai Young, meanwhile, is not underestimating the tough test that awaits his men at Kingston Park and has named a full team of international players for the clash.
"I'm confident going into the game," said Young. "However, we know how difficult Newcastle are especially up there.
"Not many teams go there and play a lot of rugby and they are always tight scores."
"They play a good kicking game and have got a strong driving line out and I imagine this is a game they will be relishing.
"We want to win any competition we are in and would love to go all the way and win it. It's an added bonus that there is Heineken Cup qualification at the end of it."
Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Danny Williams, 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Micky Young, 8 Josh Afu, 7 Ed Williamson, 6 Brent Wilson, 5 Filipo Levi, 4 James Hudson, 3 Carl Hayman (capt), 2 Rob Vickers, 1 Jon Golding.
Replacements: 16 Alex Walker, 17 Micky Ward, 18 Grant Shiells, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Will Welch, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Tom Catterick, 23 Tom Biggs.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Ben Blair 14 Leigh Halfpenny 13 Casey Laulala 12 Jamie Roberts 11 Tom James 10 Ceri Sweeney 9 Richie Rees, 8 Xavier Rush 7 Martyn Williams 6 Maama Molitika 5 Deiniol Jones 4 Bradley Davies 3 Taufa'au Filise 2 T Rhys Thomas 1 Gethin Jenkins (capt).
Replacements: 16 Gareth Williams 17 John Yapp 18 Scott Andrews 19 Paul Tito 20 Darren Allinson 21 Dai Flanagan 22 Dafydd Hewitt.