Improving Gloucester can keep it close against Newcastle
Falcons reeling after three straight league defeats
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm Friday
Two teams that have been horrible to call this season meet in front of the cameras at Kingston Park to start round nine of the Premiership campaign.
Newcastle caught the eye early on, winning four of their first five and running in plenty of tries, but three defeats in a row as conditions have worsened have led many to question whether the Falcons were a flash in the pan.
Gloucester, meanwhile, overcame mighty Saracens last weekend to make it four home wins out of four. But they looked on the ropes in the first half as Sarries dominated territory and possession, and they have struggled to replicate their home form on the road.
Cherry & Whites head coach Ruan Ackermann was delighted after that victory and gave the impression his message is getting across after he joined the staff in the summer.
Gloucester look a side on the up for now, but it would be wrong to dismiss Newcastle's chances given that their run of three defeats came against Exeter, Leicester and Wasps.
A lot will depend on how Gloucester approach their task. Their last league defeat, a 57-10 hammering, came at Sale when they were far too loose and left too many gaps.
They have won three Premiership matches in a row since and it's worth betting they can stay close enough to come away with at least a bonus point.
Cardiff and Connacht have identical records of three wins and five defeats as they prepare to meet at the Arms Park (BBC2 Wales, 7.35pm Friday).
The Blues struck late to earn their first win of the season in a 17-15 victory in Galway in September and are two-point favourites to complete a double.
Ulster are 20-point favourites at home to Benetton Treviso (BBC2 Northern Ireland, 7.05pm Friday) while Edinburgh are given a 14-point start for their tricky trip to Bloemfontein to face the Cheetahs (BBC Alba, 5.30pm Friday).
2pts 4-6 Coral, Ladbrokes
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