Leicester Tigers head to the North-East this afternoon for a first league trip to Newcastle Falcons in more than three years.
Tigers legend Dean Richards is in charge of the Falcons for a final time on home ground following the announcement that he will step down as director of rugby at the end of the season.
Leicester have not travelled to Kingston Park in Premiership action since April 2019, with the most recent scheduled trip at Christmas 2020 cancelled during the pandemic.
They did make the trip earlier this season in the Premiership Rugby Cup, though, when hooker Archie Vanes claimed two tries alongside scores by Kini Murimurivalu and Hosea Saumaki in a 28-36 defeat in the pool stages.
Richards includes former Tigers hooker George McGuigan, the scorer of 14 Premiership tries so far this season, in the front row in the week which featured a call-up to the England training squad. Another former Tigers front-rower, Logovi’i Mulipola, is named among the replacements while scrum-half Michael Young returns from injury for his first appearance of the season.
Going into Round 25 weekend, league leaders Tigers are already guaranteed a home game in the semi-finals though they lead the Gallagher Premiership table by just four points from second-placed Saracens and there is a group of clubs still in the chase for top-four places with just two games remaining.
Previewing Saturday’s game, Tigers second-rower Harry Wells said: “Newcastle are a dangerous team and we saw in the Premiership Cup that they can score points.
“It’s a massive week for them with Dean Richards’ last home game and they will want to give him a massive send-off so they will be emotional.”
Tigers have lost just two of their last nine Gallagher Premiership games, but both were away from home, at Saracens in Round 19 and Harlequins in Round 23.
Wells, who is among five members of the squad this weekend who played in that April 2019 game at Kingston Park, added: “We are still definitely going one week at a time, we’ve done that for the whole season and there is no reason to change anything now. That is the way we go about things.”
Falcons head coach Dave Walder said: “Everyone’s excited to be playing against Leicester – a side who have had a dramatic turnaround over the last year or so. They’re at the top of the league and have a real clear identity of how they want to play the game under Steve Borthwick, so it’s a great challenge in our last home game to test ourselves.
“As a group, we’re just desperate to go out on a high with it being our last home game.
“Leicester taught us a lesson down at their place back in January when there was a deluge of rain 15 minutes before kick-off, and the best controlling half-backs in the league, playing behind a dominant pack, played the conditions perfectly. They played to their identity, and it’s worked well for them all season.
“Everyone knows what they’re going to bring, so it’s a case of firstly trying to stop them, and then secondly implementing our own style and strengths on to them.”
The clubs have met on 64 previous occasions with Leicester winning 47 to 14 by Newcastle and three games drawn. This is the 25th encounter at Kingston Park, where Tigers have won on 14 previous trips.
Tigers will wear the club’s change colours of white, black and orange at Kingston Park.
Referee is Mr Anthony Woodthorpe, in his 11th Premiership game in charge.
Tickets for Saturday’s game are available from the Falcons.
Live coverage of the game is available via PRTV. Buy a Match Pass for £4.99. Click here for details.
Or you can keep up to date with events using the club’s Matchday Live service on app and website. And look out for full post-match reaction on the club website and social media channels.
Tigers return to home ground in Round 26 when Wasps are the visitors to Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Saturday, June 4 and also have a home tie in the semi-finals on Saturday, June 11. Tickets and matchday hospitality for both fixtures are on general sale now.
Friday: Bristol Bears v Exeter Chiefs, Wasps v Sale Sharks
Saturday: Bath Rugby v London Irish (3.00pm), Harlequins v Gloucester Rugby (3.00pm), Newcastle Falcons v Leicester Tigers (3.00pm), Saracens v Northampton saints (5.30pm)
Saturday, June 4 (all 3.00pm): Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins, Gloucester Rugby v Saracens, Leicester Tigers v Wasps, Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons, Sale Sharks v Bristol Bears, Worcester Warriors v Bath Rugby.