To an outsider, the Newcastle Falcons v Newport Gwent Dragons game might just be another EPCR Challenge Cup Round 5 match. But to Gilbert Rugby it is much more – it is the Gilbert Derby.
As official team wear supplier to both the Falcons and Dragons, Saturday’s game takes on much more meaning. And while we of course wouldn’t pick favourites, we do want to see an action-packed try-laden game of rugby.
Both club’s histories are unique. Newcastle Falcons are the most recent incarnation of the famous Gosforth FC, who came to be the Falcons after Sir John Hall took over the club in 1995. Since then, the Falcons have won the English Premiership and attracted a host of star names including Jonny Wilkinson and Va’aiga Tuigamala.
Newport Gwent Dragons came to be in 2003 when Welsh rugby became regionalised, and straight away the Dragons became a force in the Celtic League, finishing 3rd. The region they represent covers an area of southeast Wales including Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen.
The 2009/10 season was the last time the Falcons made it to the knockout stages whilst the last time the Dragons reached the same stage was in 2006/07 where they made it to the semi-finals; an achievement they’ll both be looking to better this season.
Falcons are coming into this game on the back of a convincing win over London Welsh, but have only picked up two wins from their past six games. They currently sit 10th in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.
Dragons won four games in a row to go the whole month of December unbeaten, but are yet to taste victory in 2015. They are sitting 10th in the Guinness Pro 12.
The last meeting between the two teams was won by Falcons, who edged a 26-30 thriller at Rodney Parade in October.
So who will come out on top in the #GilbertDerby? It seems too close to call. A win for either side could confirm their place in the quarter finals of the EPCR Challenge Cup, with defeat meaning a final round 6 showdown. Both sides will want to avoid that, so look for both teams to go hell for leather for the big win at Kingston Park.