Newcastle will become the first team to entertain a Russian side in the Challenge Cup on Sunday: 15:00 kick-off
The hosts have never lost to a team from outside the Six Nations
The Russians welcomes Guinness PRO12 leaders Connacht Rugby in the Siberian outpost of Krasnoyarsk, eventually going down 31-14
Newcastle Falcons have made six changes for their opening home fixture of the European Challenge Cup against Enisei-STM on Sunday.
Alex Tait, Zach Kibirige, Rob Vickers, Jon Welsh, Calum Green and Will Welch come in to Dean Richards’ starting XV following last week’s disappointing narrow defeat in Brive.
Despite losing five consecutive games in all competitions, the North East-based club will take confidence from the fact they have never lost to a team from outside the Six Nations, scoring more than 50 points per game in six of their 10 wins.
In fact, the only win that a team from outside the Six Nations has ever registered over an English side was Dinamo-Bucuresti’s 19-18 victory over Bristol Rugby in the first ever such encounter in 1996.
Enisei-STM though proved in their opening game in pool 1, when they hosted the Guinness PRO12 leaders Connacht Rugby in the Siberian outpost of Krasnoyarsk, that they are highly competitive despite going down to a 31-14 defeat to the Irish province.
Despite Newcastle’s miserable start to the season, which has seen some shocking team and individual performances, they ought to still have enough quality for their Russian visitors to deal with. However, if the Falcons don’t improve there could be a major chance of an upset of an upset on the cards at Kingston Park. Newcastle by 10.
Newcastle: Tait; Kibirige, Penny, Harris, Watson; Catterick, Young; Vickers, McGuigan, Welsh, Green, Robinson, Welch, Temm, Wilson
Replacements: Lawson, Rogers, Vea, Witty, Mayhew, Tipuna, Willis, Powell
Enisei-STM: Kushnarev; Malnik, Kacharava, Gerasimov, Simplikevich; Gaisin, Baranovs; Bezverkhov, Selskii, Zykov, Saulite, Krasylnyk, Orlov, Temnov, Krotov.
Replacements: Hasanov, Cleminson, Pronenko, Butenko, Babaev, Shcherban, Kurashov, Krotov.