Premiership: Newcastle Falcons against London Irish

Philip van der Walt of Newcastle Falcons offloads the ball after being tackled by Hanro Liebenberg of Leicester Tigers
Philip van der Walt has made 32 appearances for Newcastle
Venue: Kingston Park Date:Friday 22 April Kick-off:19:45 BST Coverage: Check out the BBC Sport website for updates and live scores.

Philip van der Walt is back from injury, and the Newcastle Falcons make six adjustments for Friday's Premiership visit to London Irish.

The South African player has been out of action since 29 January after he suffered a knee injury.

Three changes are made to the Irish side that beat Castres by 10 tries in the European Challenge Cup.

The Exiles won in the reverse fixture 43-21 at Brentford Community Stadium, December.

Joel Hodgson is the fly-half for Newcastle, having scored from the bench last week against the Glasgow Warriors. The Falcons were eliminated in the Challenge Cup.

The backline also includes centre Max Wright and Mateo Carreras, Argentina's wing.

Cameron Nordlii-Kelemeti begins at scrum-half, while Callum Chick starts at number eight.

Van der Walt signed an extension of his three-year deal with the club Wednesday. He now starts in the second line.

Irish refer to the same back row which defeated Castres 64 – 27 to set up a Challenge Cup semifinal against Toulon.

Ollie Hoskins is back at prop, while Matt Rogerson takes over as captain of the side in row two. Albert Tuisue is number eight.

The victory could propel Irish to sixth place in the table. Newcastle could rise to 10th if it wins a large bonus-point win.

Dean Richards, Newcastle's director for rugby, told the club's website that:“I have often stated that the Premiership is one of the most competitive clubs leagues in the world.

“Every game is open for grabs, and you must be as strong as possible every round. That is the beauty of this competition.

“We're all new in this ring-fenced environment, but we still go there with the firm intention that we win every game we play.

It does not change the fact that you try your best every week to win each game. We've been unable to achieve that consistency for most of the season.

Declan Kidney, London Irish director of Rugby, spoke to the club's site:“We are down to three games in the Premiership regular league this season, and we know every point is important in this tight league table.

“Heading up Newcastle is always a difficult fixture and we know that Dean Richards has made them a difficult team to face, especially at home. We were beaten 52-27 at Kingston Park the last time we visited, so we know their capabilities.

“It's another Friday fixture for us, but we know there will be a great atmosphere at Kingston Park when kick-off tomorrow night.”

Newcastle: Penny; Carreras, Wacokecoke, Wright, Stevenson, Hodgson, Nordli-Kelemeti; Brocklebank, McGuigan, Davison; Van der Walt, Robinson, Basham, Welch (capt); Chick.

Replacements: Blamire, Cooper, Tampin, Lockwood, Graham, Schreuder, Haydon-Wood, Radwan.

London Irish Parton; Rowe; Rona, Van Rensburg. Hassell-Collins. Jackson; Phipps. Goodrick–Clarke. Creevy. Creevy. Hoskins. Simmons. Coleman. Rogerson. Tuisue.

Replacements: Cornish, Gigena, 18 Van der Merwe, Mafi, O'Brien, White, Joseph, Arundell.

Referee: Karl Dickson

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