Photo by Chris Lishman

Big Match Preview: Newcastle V Bedford

Thursday 7 March 13

Noah Cato is set to make his Newcastle Falcons debut in this Friday’s RFU Championship showdown with Bedford Blues at Kingston Park (kick-off 8pm).

Cato replaces Andrew Higgins on the wing, while Kieran Brookes returns to the Falcons fold for his second spell with the club, and is named amongst the replacements.

The Falcons have made two further changes with Jonny Golding getting the nod at loose-head and Jimmy Gopperth coming in at fly-half.

“We are looking forward to the game and hopefully the rain holds off as both us and Bedford like playing attacking rugby,” said Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards.

He added: “Bedford have a quality scrum-half in Luke Baldwin and at fly-half they have Jake Sharp so they will be a threat at half-back.

They also have some talent in the outside backs, so it will be interesting to see how we do, and I’m really looking forward to Friday’s match.”

Friday’s clash marks the return of Brookes, who graduated from the Falcons academy before making the switch to Leicester Tigers ahead of the 2011-12 season.

Richards is delighted to have him back, saying: “Kieran gives us strength in depth in the pack and he is a quality scrummager, a good ball carrier and a mobile prop who has great potential.

“He didn’t quite hit it off at Leicester and as a consequence he has joined us on a dual registration contract.

“There’s no doubt that Leicester may want to recall him for the odd weekend, but in the main he is with us until the end of the season.”

Brookes himself is pleased to be back in the North East where his professional career took off to attract suitors such as Leicester.

“It’s awesome to be back and I absolutely love it up here in the North East, and Newcastle gave me my break when I was 18 so it’s nice to be back,” said Brookes.

“I’m just going to play my hardest and do as much as I can to help the Falcons achieve promotion back to the Premiership,” added the England Saxon front-rower.

Tickets for the game are still available by calling the Falcons Ticket Hotline on 0871 226 6060 or click here to purchase online.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Catterick, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Michael Tait, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Matt Thompson, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Scott MacLeod, 5 James Hudson, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Ally Hogg

Replacements: 16 Michael Mayhew, 17 Kieran Brookes, 18 Sean Tomes, 19 Taiasina Tu’ifua, 20 Warren Fury, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 Alex Crockett

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