Bonus-point wins for Northampton and London Irish on Saturday ruined any hopes Leicester had of moving into the top half of the table this weekend. However, they can still climb above Bath into seventh place if they beat Newcastle, as expected, at Welford Road.
That would be another small step in the Tigers’ steady if unspectacular progress under Steve Borthwick, who should be comfortable winners against a Newcastle side that looks out-of-sorts and down on their luck.
The Falcons blew an 18-6 half-time lead at home to Wasps last time out and conceded 17 penalties and two yellow cards. Having had to defend for the majority of the second half, much of it on their own try-line, their discipline eventually cracked, and Leicester will look to put them under the same pressure today.
When Newcastle were playing well at the start of the season, the Michael Young-Brett Connon-Toby Flood-Luther Burrell axis at 9-13 had been a ket part in that. But injuries and a loss of form have disrupted them there and scoring enough tries to seriously trouble the opposition on the scoreboard has become a problem.
Leicester, on the other hand, look to be in a buoyant mood, having come out of last week’s defeat at Exeter with five tries and a lot of credit, and they also welcome back some influential players.
England trio George Ford, Ellis Genge and George Martin return from international duty and Jasper Wiese from suspension.
Genge comes straight into the starting pack at loose-head prop alongside club captain Tom Youngs and Dan Cole in the front row, with Ford at 10 and Martin on the bench.
In the back row, there is a welcome return from suspension for Wiese at No.8 after four weeks on the sidelines. The South African’s inclusion sees last weekend’s fans’ favourite winner Hanro Liebenberg move to blindside flanker.
As for Newcastle, England flanker Mark Wilson returns to captain the side, and centre Pete Lucock makes his first Premiership start after coming on twice as a replacement during the opening fortnight of the league campaign.
Tigers legend Dean Richards has only ever won once at Welford Road in his eight seasons as Falcons boss and we don’t see his side coming anywhere close to improving on that record today.
Leicester: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Dan Kelly, 11 Kini Murimurivalu, 10 George Ford, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 1 Ellis Genge, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 3 Dan Cole, 4 Harry Wells, 5 Calum Green, 6 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Tommy Reffell, 8 Jasper Wiese.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Luan de Bruin, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Cameron Henderson, 20 George Martin, 21 Jack Van Poortvliet, 22 Johnny McPhillips, 23 Guy Porter.
Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 George Wacokecoke, 13 Pete Lucock, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Louis Schreuder, 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Jon Welsh, 4 Darren Barry, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Will Welch, 7 Mark Wilson (c), 8 Callum Chick.
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Connor Collett, 20 Philip van der Walt, 21 Sam Stuart, 22 Brett Connon, 23 Morgan Passman.