NEWCASTLE FALCONS head into their final game of the conventional season already assured of a Premiership semi-final slot, but tomorrow’s home meeting with Wasps will determine who they face for a place in the final at Twickenham.

If Falcons win tomorrow, they will finish third in the table and travel to Saracens in the Premiership semi-finals on Saturday, May 19. If, however, they lose to Wasps, they will finish fourth and head to Exeter Chiefs on the same day.

Whatever happens, Falcons are guaranteed to be playing European Champions Cup rugby next season, but while tomorrow’s game might not come with the same amount of pressure that accompanied last weekend’s dramatic win at Leicester, the presence of a sell-out 10,000-strong crowd will ensure there is no letting up.

“It is going to be a huge occasion here with it being a sell-out,” said director of rugby Dean Richards. “We’ve got long-serving players making their last home appearances and we’re playing for third place in the Premiership.

“It’s a game which doesn’t take much selling because the script is all there, the boys are going well and a team like Wasps will also play a brand of rugby that people enjoy watching. Whichever way you look at it we should see some good stuff, and it will be an interesting 80 minutes.”

Richards committed his long-term future to Kingston Park this week, signing a new three-year deal, and while there has been speculation about his future this season, the Falcons chief insists he was always determined to extend his stay in the North-East.

“To be honest, it had been sorted out some time ago with our chairman Semore Kurdi,” he said. “It’s just something personal to me and I’m never one to shout about these things. To me it’s nothing near as exciting as a player contract being signed and I don’t see it as being that important, but of course I’m delighted to be staying here.”

Richard has been forced to make eight changes for tomorrow’s game, with last week’s Welford Road victory having taken a heavy toll on the injury front.

Vereniki Goneva, Scott Wilson, Sinoti Sinoti, Michael Young and Sean Robinson all miss out after picking up knocks, with Alex Tait and Zach Kibirige coming in on the wings and Josh Matavesi linking up with Sonatane Takulua in a new half-back pairing.

Rob Vickers replaces Sam Lockwood at loose-head in what will be his final home game, and number eight Ally Hogg will also be making his final start at Kingston Park.

Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley, Tait, Harris, Socino, Kibirige, Matavesi, Takulua; Vickers, Lawson, Davison, Olmstead, Witty, M Wilson, Graham, Hogg.

Replacements: Socino, Lockwood, D Wilson, Young, Latu, Stuart, Willis, Penny.