Round-up: Noon in the shadows as Tait steps up

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The Independent Online

Jonny Wilkinson, Jamie Noon and Mathew Tait - England's past, present, and future in the Newcastle back line - will all be in the limelight for different reasons when leaders Sale come visiting in the Guinness Premiership today.

Tait, 20, who helped England to a Commonwealth Games silver medal last month and looks set to be selected for the world champions' summer tour to Australia, has been recalled by Newcastle at outside-centre in place of Noon.

Wilkinson begins his latest comeback on the bench, alongside Noon. But even England's injury-plagued World Cup hero is unsure how many false dawns he has endured since that glorious night in Sydney. "I'm making a sixth, arguably seventh, comeback from injury in two-and-a-bit years," said the 26-year-old fly-half. "I went from a neck injury to an arm injury to a knee injury to another knee, then neck, then appendix, then groin. There's got to be an end to it all some time."

Falcons' director of rugby, Rob Andrew, said of Noon: "Jamie is a little off-colour; not in terms of fitness but there's a Six Nations hangover. Tired is not the right word, but he just isn't quite the Jamie Noon we know. I think he needs a bit of a breather."

Sale, who welcome back their French No 8 Sébastien Chabal, can clinch home advantage in the play-offs if they win at Kingston Park. But if the result goes in Newcastle's favour, it will consign Leeds to National League One.

Wasps have recalled Matt Dawson for their appointment with an improving Saracens at Vicarage Road this afternoon. Joe Worsley returns at openside flanker in place of the injured Johnny O'Connor.

Connacht remain bottom of the Celtic League despite grinding out a 15-10 victory over Newport-Gwent Dragons in Galway.