NEWCASTLE FALCONS v LEINSTER 'A', Kingston Park, 7.30pm
Team News: The Leinster 'A' team to face Newcastle Falcons in Friday night's British & Irish Cup final at Kingston Park has been named.
Back rower Jordi Murphy, who has been making great strides at senior level, leads a young team ahead of the trip to the north east of England for the province's first final in this competition.
Luke McGrath continues his half-back pairing with former school-mate Cathal Marsh, with Noel Reid linking up at centre with Brendan Macken, who has returned to full contact training after a recent hand injury.
Up front, Ireland international Michael Bent is named in the front row alongside hooker Aaron Dundon and Academy prop Jack O'Connell, with Tadhg Beirne locking down alongside Mark Flanagan in the second row.
Skipper Murphy forms an exciting back row unit with Conor Gilsenan and Dominic Ryan.
Leinster 'A' have lost just once in this year's competition and claimed away victories in each of their last two knock-out matches - 30-26 away to Bristol and 17-15 away to Munster 'A', last year's champions.
Meanwhile, Newcastle Falcons have finalised their side for the cup final as Dean Richards’ men look to secure the first part of a domestic double.
The RFU Championship table toppers reached the B&I Cup decider after winning each of their Pool 4 games before defeating Nottingham and Bedford Blues in the knockout stages.
Victory over Leinster 'A' would see the north easterners lift their first trophy in nine years, and with tickets priced at £10 adults and under-16s going for free, an electric atmosphere is expected inside Kingston Park.
“There are a lot of changes for this game purely to back up what happened on Sunday (Newcastle beat Leeds 15-6 in the Championship semi-final second leg) as there are a lot of bruised bodies," said Richards.
"We have to make sure that we get them right for next week (the first leg of the Championship final against Bedford Blues).
“In saying that, the quality of the squad that we have named is exceptionally good, and I am looking forward to it, and I think it is going to be a really good game."
The Gloucester-bound James Hudson will skipper the Newcastle team - in the absence of club captain Will Welch - with the towering lock itching to lift the trophy in his final season as a Falcon.
Another notable absentee from the Falcons line-up is New Zealand-born out-half Jimmy Gopperth whose two-year deal with Leinster was announced in March. Gopperth is Newcastle's top scorer in this season's B&I Cup with 51 points.
NEWCASTLE FALCONS: Jamie Sole; Zach Kibirge, Alex Crockett, James Fitzpatrick, Andrew Higgins; Joel Hodgson, Rory Lawson; James Hall, Rob Vickers, Scott Wilson, Sean Tomes, James Hudson (capt), Ollie Stedman, Richard Mayhew, Chris York.
Replacements: Michael Mayhew, James Hallam, Scott MacLeod, Taiasina Tu'ifua, Chris Pilgrim, Waisea Luveniyali, Michael Tait.
LEINSTER 'A': Fionn Carr; Sam Coghlan Murray, Brendan Macken, Noel Reid, Andrew Boyle; Cathal Marsh, Luke McGrath; Jack O'Connell, Aaron Dundon, Michael Bent, Tadhg Beirne, Mark Flanagan, Dominic Ryan, Conor Gilsenan, Jordi Murphy (capt).
Replacements: James Tracy, Martin Moore, Leo Auva'a, Daniel Leavy, Adam Griggs, Jordan Coghlan, Adam Byrne.
Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Simon Rees, Wayne Davies (both Wales)
Pre-Match Quotes: James Hudson (Newcastle Falcons) - "Everyone involved in the Leinster team benefits from excellent coaching and there is a culture of winning, so I expect their core skills to be at a very high quality.
"They have got some dangerous guys - their out-half looks pretty handy and their back-three look very good on the counter attack.
“On top of that there are a number of challenges up front as well, but we have had a good look at them and we have got a plan put together.
"The ground really comes alive when there are more than 6,000 fans, and the atmosphere is fantastic. Once we get the numbers through the doors it just helps the team."
Top Scorers - 2012/13 British & Irish Cup: Newcastle Falcons - Points: Jimmy Gopperth 51; Tries: Ryan Shortland, Luke Fielden 3 each; Leinster 'A' - Points: Noel Reid 75; Tries: Brendan Macken 5
ROAD TO THE FINAL:
NEWCASTLE FALCONS - Pld 8 W8, D0, L0 - Pool 4: Won 52-5 at home to Cross Keys; Won 34-3 away to Connacht Eagles; Won 26-10 away to Newport; Won 93-0 at home to Newport; Won 16-6 at home to Connacht Eagles; Won 34-3 away to Cross Keys; Quarter-final: Won 72-17 at home to Nottingham; Semi-final: Won 18-15 away to Bedford Blues
LEINSTER 'A' - Pld 8, W6, D1, L1 - Pool 5: Won 47-18 at home to Leeds Carnegie; Lost 25-23 away to Pontypridd; Won 16-12 away to Jersey; Won 44-13 at home to Jersey; Won 21-9 at home to Pontypridd; Drew 30-30 away to Leeds Carnegie; Quarter-final: Won 30-26 away to Bristol; Semi-final: Won 17-15 away to Munster 'A'
- Leinster 'A' won four of their six Pool 5 matches to progress to the knockout stages, where 2011 British & Irish Cup winners Bristol lay in wait at the Memorial Stadium
- Girvan Dempsey's side outscored their English hosts four tries to two to win the quarter-final 30-26 and set up an all-Irish semi-final against arch rivals Munster 'A'
- In the semi-final defending B&I Cup champions Munster 'A' trailed by two points as a tense, closely-fought encounter neared a conclusion
- Munster 'A' out-half JJ Hanrahan was handed a late chance to win it for the men in red but his injury-time penalty sailed just wide of the uprights and Leinster 'A' were left celebrating a 17-15 semi-final victory
- Newcastle Falcons enjoyed a smooth passage through to the knockout stages having topped Pool 4 following home and away wins over 2012 finalists Cross Keys, Connacht Eagles and Newport, and only conceding 27 points in the process
- Their quarter-final tie against Nottingham was equally as straightforward, the Falcons running in 11 tries against callow opposition to win 72-17.
- Drawn away to Bedford in the semi-final, Newcastle appeared to be in complete control until a late Blues rally ensured a nervy finish at Goldington Road
- With the Falcons 18-3 in front with six minutes to go, Bedford cranked up the pressure on Dean Richards' men with two late tries to narrow the gap to 18-15. However, the Falcons managed to hold on to keep their dreams of a league and cup double alive
- 18-15 was also the scoreline when Newcastle last played Leinster in a competitive fixture on January 8, 2002. Headingley hosted the twice-postponed Heineken Cup tie, which the Irish province won after Jonny Wilkinson failed to convert a late try by Va'aiga Tuigamala