WHAT a difference a week makes. Last weekend, Newcastle Falcons travelled to Murrayfield in a parlous state and crashed to a heavy defeat to Edinburgh. Seven days on, and Dean Richards’ side are refreshed, restored to full strength, and raring to extract revenge on the same opposition as they look to close in on a place in the European Champions Cup’s knockout rounds.

England international Mark Wilson returns to the Falcons side as part of 11 changes to the team that kicked off last weekend’s defeat.

Star wingers Vereniki Goneva and Sinoti Sinoti also return to the fold, but the key changes come in the front row, where last week’s absences proved so debilitating.

Falcons only had one fit tighthead at Murrayfield, but with Kyle Cooper and Trevor Davison returning to the front row on Sunday, and Nemani Nagusa and John Hardie joining Wilson in a new-look back row, Edinburgh can expect a totally different test.

“We’ve come through last weekend,” said Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards. “We didn’t get the result we wanted, and the scrum played a large part in that, but that’s life and you move on.

“Hopefully, there’ll be a review of how that kind of situation is dealt with, but that would have to be at the end of the season now because if they’re not going to change it for us, they can’t really do it for anyone else.

“We’ve had a lot of serious injuries in key positions, but I’m not going to complain because all teams suffer injuries and I think the guys who have come in have done well.

“We knew last week was going to be hard because we had so many boys carrying bumps and bruises which meant we couldn’t field them, but Sunday is slightly different because they’ve been given that recovery time they needed and it’s a different team.

“That’s not taking anything away from the boys who played last week, because I thought a lot of them played well. The loss of power in the scrum was obviously a factor but we’re not in the business of making excuses - we’ve just got to turn it up a bit this week and get a positive outcome.”

While not exactly writing off last weekend’s game, Richards always knew it would be difficult for his players to be at their best in back-to-back European fixtures.

Sunday’s home game was identified as Newcastle’s best chance of getting the victory that would take them a giant step closer to the Champions Cup knock-out rounds, with wins over Toulon and Montpellier having provided a dream return to European’s rugby top table after an absence of more than a decade.

Last weekend’s results have tightened things up in Pool Five, but Falcons still head into Sunday’s game knowing a win will take them back to the top of the table, provided Edinburgh do not claim a losing bonus point.

With just two more pool games to play, that would leave them extremely well-placed, with this year’s Champions Cup final scheduled for St James’ Park in May.

“The Champions Cup is exciting,” said Richards. “It’s different, you’re playing sides from different leagues with different outlooks and experiencing something new.

“The boys love it, and to go into a rugby-mad atmosphere like Toulon in round one was something that really got them pumped-up. To then beat a Montpellier side who have been right near the top of the French game for a number of years, that was pretty special, and the team are lapping it up.”

Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley, Goneva, Harris, Williams, Sinoti, Flood, Takulua; Lockwood, Cooper, Davison, Green, Cavubati, M Wilson, Hardie, Nagusa.