Preview: Wasps v Newcastle Falcons

Date published: October 28 2016

Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young has named his team to take on Newcastle Falcons at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday.

In the backline, there are returns to the starting line-up for Frank Halai and Rob Miller, while Joe Simpson and Jimmy Gopperth form the half-back pairing.

Gopperth is given an opportunity to start in his favoured position at 10, having already excelled at inside centre and full back this season. After an impressive start to the season, Cipriani is given a well-deserved breather on the bench.

Coming back into the starting line-up after impressing as replacements last weekend are Marty Moore, Kearnan Myall and Guy Thompson, while Thomas Young is ruled out with the chest injury picked up against Toulouse.

Ashley Johnson reverts to hooker from the back-row, with Alex Rieder starting on the blindside flank.

Ahead of the game against the Falcons, Wasps’ boss Young recalled how tight last season’s fixture was between the two sides at the Ricoh Arena: "To be honest, we got out of jail when we played them at the Ricoh Arena last season. Thankfully for us, they sliced a kick, otherwise they would have gone away with the win.

"Newcastle are a physical team who are very confrontational in the way they play the game. They’ve also expanded their game and play a lot of wide, attacking rugby, with real threats within their team and a good balance of power and pace, as well as a bit of flair. We’re under no illusion how tough a prospect the Falcons will be on Sunday. We’ll need to match last weekend’s intensity and be at our best if we’re to get the result we want."

Callum Chick will make his Premiership debut for Newcastle Falcons on Sunday when they travel to Wasps.

The 19-year-old number eight was part of the England Under-20s team which won the Junior World Championship in June, and started for the Falcons in last weekend’s 50-7 European Challenge Cup victory over Grenoble.

Newcastle make four personnel changes from the eight-try triumph, their last visit to the Ricoh Arena delivering a losing bonus point in a 9-8 reverse.

Sinoti Sinoti returns on the wing for Alex Tait, Canadian international Evan Olmstead replacing Will Witty at lock. Michael Young comes in for Tonga scrum-half Sonatane Takulua, a new half-back pairing completed by the return of Mike Delany at fly-half.

Hoping to continue the early-season form which has seen his side climb into the top half of the table after three wins from six and a pair of losing bonus points, Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: "Wasps are a good side. They and Saracens are the two who are on fire at the moment, it is a great challenge for us but our boys are on a bit of a high. We are looking forward to it, and the chance to test yourself against the best is motivation in itself."

Having lost 9-8 on their last visit to the Ricoh Arena in February, Richards said: "We should have won there, but that was last season. We were disappointed with that, and again when we should have had a bonus point from our home game with Wasps. It doesn’t hold any fear for us, we have just to go down there and do the job. It rests in our own hands.

"Wasps have threats all over the place, so it would not be right to only focus on one. They are a quality outfit who have spent a lot of money, but we have good players as well. If we play to our capability it will be an interesting game. They have spent a huge amount of money on the team, it is a quality side and full of internationals in all the right places. Those guys can have a big impact, and we understand that. It is about us now getting prepared, going down there with the right attitude and doing the job."

Form: Wasps only defeat in any competition this season was 14-30 against Saracens at Allianz Park in round 6. Wasps have won their last 13 matches at Ricoh Arena since Saracens beat them there in the Premiership on 27th December. Newcastle Falcons have an even won three, lost three record in this season with their victory on the road in Gloucester in round four ending a 23 month barren spell on their travels in the competition. Wasps are unbeaten in their last six fixtures with the Falcons, since Newcastle’s 14-10 victory at Adams Park in May 2012.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Guy Thompson, 6 Alex Rieder, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury (c), 3 Marty Moore, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Matt Symons, 20 James Gaskell, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Alapati Leiua

Newcastle: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Marcus Watson, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Michael Young, 8 Callum Chick, 7 Will Welch (c), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Evan Olmstead, 4 Calum Green, 3 Jon Welsh, 2 Ben Sowrey, 1 Sam Lockwood
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Rob Vickers, 18 David Wilson, 19 Will Witty, 20 Ally Hogg, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Fred Burdon

Date: Sunday, October 30 
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Time: 14:30 local (13:30 GMT) 
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan & Philip Watters
TMO: Trevor Fisher