Leeds primed to prove Newcastle are not unbeatable

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Leeds Carnegie head coach Diccon Edwards insists that Newcastle Falcons are not unbeatable on the eve of their biggest league game so far this season.

Leeds welcome the high-flying Falcons to Otley RFC with hope of being the first side to topple them.

However, despite Newcastle arriving in West Yorkshire with a 100 per cent record in the league, Edwards believes they are not invincible.

“They can definitely be beaten,” he said.

“A couple of teams have shown that if you commit to your defensive efforts and challenge them to the ball, you can put them under pressure and force errors.

“They haven’t really been put under much pressure this season. Bedford limited them to one score up until the last couple of minutes, but that’s about it.

“That’s the challenge for us; to make sure we stay in the game right up until the last minute.”

Former Premiership winners Newcastle sit 11 points clear at the top of the league, but Edwards believes that the awaiting challenge is no different to any other Leeds have faced this season.

Newcastle play in a very similar style to other sides, but Edwards is aware that the perception of Newcastle being a ‘bigger club’ can play on the players’ minds. “They are very direct and physical, just like Jersey and Plymouth, for example, but they are Newcastle,” he said.

“It’s definitely a step up in intensity; mentally you’ve got to be prepared for the challenge.

“But we go into every game believing we can win.

“We need to do the fixture justice; it’s a home game and we want to keep building momentum.”

The last meeting between the two sides was on the back of Leeds’s finest performance of the season at home to Bristol, but Edwards made significant changes a week later and the weaker side succumbed to their heaviest defeat of the campaign.

Edwards, however, has picked his strongest available side to combat the promotion favourites.

“We’re picking what we believe is our strongest team this weekend,” he said.

“We want to make sure we compete and perform and step up.”

Leeds have made three changes to the team that beat Plymouth, with Craig Hampson, Oli Goss and Christian Georgiou all coming in, while fly-half Joe Ford, who impressed Edwards last week, retains his starting place because Rory Clegg has been recalled by Harlequins for the weekend as illness has limited the Premiership champions’ options. The visitors have also made changes, with experienced internationals Rory Lawson and Taiasina Tu’ifua completing a strong squad.