Newcastle Falcons vs Leicester Tigers Live : Rugby match and TV coverage will be shown exclusively by BT Sport as the two struggling clubs go toe-to-toe with both sides desperate for a win in their quest to avoid relegation from the Gallagher Premiership. Newcastle Falcons v Leicester Tigers (Kingston Park, 7.45pm) Live on Gloucester Rugby v Bath Rugby (Kingsholm, 3pm) Live on BT Sport
Dean Richards’ side are still bottom, but just five points behind the Tigers, who have lost their last three games. Leicester have named a star-packed side in their bid to avoid being dragged into danger, with Manu Tuilagi, George Ford and Ellis Genge involved.
Graham Kitchener and Matt Smith both play their 150th Premiership games. The Tigers are one of the most successful outfits in English rugby history – with 10 titles, two Heineken Cups and John Player and Tetley Cup wins – but this season has been one of struggle.
Leicester have never been relegated, and it would be some irony if Richards, one of their most successful captains and coaches, were to engineer their downfall.
“There’ll be a lot of intensity shown and a lot of passion shown,” he told BBC Newcastle. “Invariably when you get a game like this it doesn’t turn out to be a humdinger in the way that anyone would like it to be, but there will passion and intensity on show.”
Richards’ presence is one of many shared links between the two sides, with ex-Tigers Toby Flood, Calum Green, Vereniki Goneva, Logovi’i Mulipola and George McGuigan all involved for Newcastle.
“Dean was very good to me as a coach,” Tigers head coach Geordan Murphy told BBC Radio Leicester. “He’s also been incredibly supportive as a head coach and is a very good man.
“I have a lot of time for him but I hope I get one over him this week. I think it’s a huge game, it won’t be the deciding factor and there are still three games to go.” Newcastle: Hammersley; Goneva, Harris, Matavesi, Sinoti; Flood, Takulua; Mulipola, McGuigan, Ah You, Green, Davidson, Graham, Hardie, Wilson
Replacements: Cooper, Lockwood, Davison, Robinson, Olmstead, Young, Connon, Williams Leicester: Toomua; May, Owen, Tuilagi, Olowofela; Ford, Harrison; Genge, Kerr, Cole, Spencer, Kitchener, Fitzgerald, Williams, Thompson
Replacements: Polota-Nau, Gigena, Heyes, Wells, O’Connor, White, Aspland-Robinson, Smith .
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Newcastle Falcons vs Leicester Tigers: Match preview
The fact that Friday night’s game is being billed as one of the biggest in Leicester Tigers’ prestigious history shows just how far the once great club has fallen.
Normally at this stage of the season the Tigers would preparing for a tilt at the play-offs. But this year the eight-time Premiership champions are faced with the unthinkable prospect of being relegated from the top tier of English rugby.
Just six victories in 18 league games has seen the Tigers slump to 10th in the table and another defeat to fellow strugglers Newcastle this coming Friday would see Geordan Murphy’s side slip even closer to the trapdoor.
Leicester head to bottom-of-the-table Newcastle with just a five-point buffer separating the two clubs and only four games of the regular season remaining.