BATH rugby director Todd Blackadder has braced his side to face "a high-tempo" Newcastle team in Friday's Aviva Premiership clash at Kingston Park.

The Falcons have won their last five home games in all competitions, while Bath are unbeaten since suffering a costly European Champions Cup defeat against the Scarlets last month.

Victory for Bath would take them third behind Premiership pace-setters Exeter and Saracens - Saracens will go top if they topple Sale on Friday - and keep themselves firmly in play-off contention.

Newcastle, though, edged out Bath at the Recreation Ground earlier this term, and they have not achieved a league double against them for 20 years.

"They are a high-tempo team," Blackadder said. "They will run everything.

"Whenever we've been there they have really tried to speed the game up and almost make it quite chaos-orientated.

"We've just got to stick to our structures and build on the way we performed last week (Bath beat Northampton 32-9).

"(Newcastle) are a good side, they are well-coached, well-managed. They are a real tight unit playing some good rugby.

"People have got this perception that they are an OK-ish, average side. They are not. They can beat any side on any given day."

Blackadder hands a debut to former Worcester wing Cooper Vuna, while Zach Mercer returns from England duty. Newcastle show six changes, with their starters including fly-half Toby Flood, plus Scotland internationals Chris Harris and Jon Welsh.

Newcastle rugby director Dean Richards said: "It will be a hard game, but it holds no fear for us. If Bath turn up, they are a very difficult side to beat, but so are we.

"Overall, we are starting to deliver what we set out to do, we are becoming more consistent, but it has taken a bit of time.

"The game has evolved since we came back up (from the Championship), there has been some big spending going on around the league, and in that respect we've been chasing our tails a little.

"But we are getting there, we have a stability and quality in the side and a growing maturity in the group. Guys who were 21 during our Championship season are now in their prime with a bank of experience behind them, and we're getting the rewards from that."

Bath: 15. James Wilson, 14. Aled Brew, 13. Will Hurrell, 12. Ben Tapuai, 11. Cooper Vuna, 10. Freddie Burns, 9. Kahn Fotuali’i, 1. Lucas Noguera, 2. Ross Batty, 3. Max Lahiff, 4. James Phillips, 5. Elliott Stooke, 6. Matt Garvey (captain), 7. Paul Grant, 8. Zach Mercer.

Replacements: 16. Nathan Charles, 17. Beno Obano, 18. Anthony Perenise, 19. Levi Douglas, 20. Josh Bayliss, 21. Chris Cook, 22. Josh Lewis, 23. Jeff Williams.