Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Stars Stand at Ease; Leading Names Are Rested by Gold for Army Battle

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Stars Stand at Ease; Leading Names Are Rested by Gold for Army Battle

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith

NEWCASTLE Falcons are resting a host of their stars for this afternoon's friendly match against the British Army in Portugal.

The 3pm kick-off sees half-back pair Jimmy Gopperth and Peter Stringer among the first-team regulars left out of the game at Browns Sports and Leisure Club in Villamoura, Algarve.

Front-rowers Jonny Golding, Rob Vickers and Euan Murray are all absent from a freshened-up starting XV as director of rugby Gary Gold looks to assess a number of his fringe figures against the World Defence champions.

James Hudson captains the side in what will be his first start since the New Year's Eve defeat by Northampton Saints, during which he suffered a torn pectoral muscle.

The lock-forward returned to play the final half-hour of Friday's 22-19 win over Sale Sharks, and forms part of a secondrow pairing alongside Kiwi Andrew Van der Heijden.

Grant Shiells and James Hall come in to provide the scrummage impetus at propforward as Michael Mayhew slots in at hooker, while a bruising back-row combination sees Samoan powerhouse Taiasina Tu'ifua partnered by Mark Wilson and Richard Mayhew.

Jordi Pasqualin gets a rare run-out at scrum-half in a youthful half-back pairing with Joel Hodgson for a game which will see rolling replacements from both teams.

Corne Uys and Tom Bedford, who were both deployed on the wing against Sale, return to their more familiar centre position, with Ryan Shortland given an overdue start out wide.

The Kiwi has been an unlucky victim of the two-foreigner rule in Premiership as countrymen Jimmy Gopperth and Jeremy Manning fill that quota - the latter starting alongside Shortland for this afternoon's clash.

Tom Catterick is at full-back after scoring a try for Blaydon at the weekend in National One action, with Newcastle using today's game as preparation for next Saturday's Aviva Premiership trip to Gloucester. …

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