NEWCASTLE Falcons have suffered another injury blow ahead of Sunday's match at home to Saracens.

England squad centre Jamie Noon, who set a Premiership record last season for successive appearances, has a sore calf and will miss his first game of the current campaign.

With other injuries forcing the Falcons to continue with Epi Taione at inside centre, Australian Matt Burke will take Noon's place with David Walder coming in at full back.

Winger Tom May is also ruled out by a back problem, so Mathew Tait will make his first start of the season after doing well when coming off the bench for the last three games.

Neither Noon nor May is expected to miss next week's opening Heineken Cup game at Newport, and could even be on the bench on Sunday, along with back row man Phil Dowson and prop Ian Peel.

Joint captain Peel has not quite fully recovered from his back injury, so Micky Ward switches to tight head with James Isaacson being given a start at loose head.

Blaydon could turn to their fourth scrum half of the season for their first venture into the third round of the Powergen Cup.

They have re-signed Durham School teacher Ben Mason, who has had spells with Gateshead and Westoe since he last played at Crow Trees.

He will definitely be in the squad of 22, and with Micky Dungait resting for three or four weeks because of his neck problem the other scrum half in the squad will be Shaun Richardson or Nick Williams.

Richardson, signed on loan from Harrogate, is very doubtful because of the ankle injury he picked up on his debut at Halifax.

Captained by fly half Dan Clappison in the absence of the injured Dave Guthrie, Blaydon have decided to travel tomorrow rather than incur the expense of an overnight stay. They receive £1,000 in prizemoney for reaching this stage, plus 40 per cent of the gate receipts.

They are hoping that prop Fatu Tulaga recovers from flu and are also waiting to see if New Zealander Hayden Cullen is fit after being kneed in the kidneys in the first minute of his debut last week.

Hooker Matt Hall suffered a hand injury at Halifax, so Paul Ritson is standing by for a return after missing the whole of last season with a neck problem.

It is second round day in the Powergen Intermediate Cup and Middlesbrough will be confident of progress at home to Sandal, who are a division below them in North Two East.

Horden face the toughest task at home to the beaten finalists from four years ago, Hull Ionians, who are top of North One.

But Horden have a good home record in this competition, their only defeat being by one point against Dudley Kingswinford in January, 1998.

There is an interesting clash of the early season leaders in Durham and Northumberland Division One at York, where Consett are the visitors.