Newcastle’s arduous road back to the Premiership will begin on the second weekend of October when they travel to the Richmond Athletic Ground to take on London Scottish.
Dean Richards’ Falcons should get off to a flyer given their first home match is against last season’s relegation strugglers Hartpury. However, their promotion credentials face a big test in week three against Cornish Pirates at the Mennaye Field.
Pirates, recruiting heavily under new director of rugby Chris Stirling, open their account at home to Ealing, the side most likely to challenge Newcastle.
Round 1: Ampthill v Nottingham, Cornish Pirates v Ealing Trailfinders, Hartpury v Doncaster Knights, Jersey Reds v Coventry, London Scottish v Newcastle Falcons
Round 2: Ampthill v Yorkshire Carnegie, Coventry v Bedford Blues, Doncaster Knights v Cornish Pirates, Ealing Trailfinders v Jersey Reds, Newcastle Falcons v Hartpury, Nottingham v London Scottish
Round 3: Bedford Blues v Ealing Trailfinders, Cornish Pirates v Newcastle Falcons, Hartpury v Nottingham, Jersey Reds v Doncaster Knights, London Scottish v Ampthill, Yorkshire Carnegie v Coventry
Round 4: Ampthill v Hartpury, Doncaster Knights v Bedford Blues, Ealing Trailfinders v Coventry, London Scottish v Yorkshire Carnegie, Newcastle Falcons v Jersey Reds, Nottingham v Cornish Pirates
Round 22: Bedford Blues v Yorkshire Carnegie, Coventry v Jersey Reds, Doncaster Knights v Hartpury, Ealing Trailfinders v Cornish Pirates, Newcastle Falcons v London Scottish, Nottingham v Ampthill
Ben Ward’s men face a stiff examination of their capabilities in the opening month, with Jersey visiting Vallis Way in week two before they take on Bedford (away) and Coventry (home), while they must wait until Christmas to meet Newcastle.
The draft fixture list, seen by The Rugby Paper and due to be confirmed by the RFU this week, reveals newly-promoted Ampthill will begin life at level two with three of their first four games at home, starting with Nottingham’s visit to Dillingham Park before they take on cash-strapped Yorkshire, London Scottish (away) and Hartpury.
The opening day’s fixtures are reversed for the round 22, scheduled for the second weekend in May, meaning Newcastle and Ealing could claim promotion to the top-flight in front of their own fans should the title race go down to the wire.
Pool 1 – Ampthill, Bedford Blues, Coventry, Ealing Trailfinders
Pool 2 – Doncaster Knights, Hartpury, Jersey Reds, Newcastle Falcons
Pool 3 – Cornish Pirates, London Scottish, Nottingham, Yorkshire Carnegie
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