Carnegie swoop for Falcons duo

Leeds Carnegie further bolstered their Championship title bid with the signings of Newcastle duo James Fitzpatrick and Chris Pilgrim.

Following the arrival of Jonny Bentley on loan from Gloucester in February, the Headingley-based side have added centre Fitzpatrick and scrum-half Pilgrim to their ranks.

Both players have agreed a two-year deal with the second-placed club, who currently sit just five points behind leaders Bristol, with Fitzpatrick set to join Leeds on loan for the rest of the season once he recovers from injury.

Pilgrim, 28, joined Newcastle from Nottingham, having earned England Students honours during his time at Loughbrough University but his involvement in the Falcons successful promotion challenge was thwarted by a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

In a breakthrough year, 26-year-old Fitzpatrick joined the Falcons from South Shields club Westoe during the 2009-10 season before going on to score 13 tries in 22 matches, winning an England Counties call-up by the end of the campaign.

"We have been monitoring both players over a long period and had great reports on not just their abilities on the field, but their attitude off the field, which is an important factor for us," Leeds Director of Rugby Chris Gibson said.

"James is currently recovering from an injury but has been registered to join up with us on loan, when fit, for the remainder of the season, and I know that Chris is already excited about next season and being part of our group."