Planet Rugby

Preview: Wasps v Newcastle

31st December 2010 11:12

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Riki Flutey wasps v harlequins

Wasps boss Tony Hanks has made six changes and two positional switches to the side that will face Newcastle at Adams Park on Sunday.

Riki Flutey makes his first start since recovery from a calf injury sustained against Northampton Saints in October. Coming on as a replacement against Dragons at Cardiff City Stadium three weeks ago, Flutey missed last weekend's game due to illness but back to health, he replaces Steve Kefu.

Further changes to the backs see Richard Haughton start at full-back, trading places with Mark Van Gisbergen who joins the replacements, and Nic Berry starts at scrum-half in place of Joe Simpson who is ruled out with a hamstring.

In the front row Tim Payne, named on the bench last week after a return from injury, starts and Zak Taulafo moves to tight head. An unchanged second row partnership of Simon Shaw and James Cannon is supported in the back row by Will Matthews, Joe Worsley and Andy Powell.

Matthews is in from the bench, whilst Serge Betsen bolsters the replacements that also feature Charlie Beech, returning from an ankle injury that has kept him sidelined since October, Charlie Davies and Ben Broster. With Rob Webber and Joe Ward injured Jason Hobson is named as back-up hooker.

"In recent weeks we have enjoyed a good run of performances and results so there is obvious disappointment on the back of the Saracens game. We created enough opportunities to have at least taken a draw so there has been a strong desire to put things right in training this week and really focus on an improved performance against Newcastle," said Hanks.

"This game is hugely important one for us and we expect a highly challenging game, especially on the back of our trip to Kingston Park earlier in the season. The desire to avenge that result is extremely high."

Meanwhile, Newcastle Falcons have made one change to the side that was named for the Leeds clash last week.

New signing Euan Murray, who cannot play on a Sunday due to his religious beliefs, makes way for Kieran Brookes in the front row. There are also places on the bench for England Counties international Matt Hall and Kiwi scrum half, Jason Spice as Tait looks to utilise the quality in reserve.

"The boys going down there have got a real chance to stake a claim for the jersey against Sale the following week," said Tait.

"It's disappointing not to have played a league game since Leicester away. I'm not going to shy away from the fact that we thought Bath were on a bad run and Leeds at home and Sale at home are games we should be winning, so the festive period was always going to be a crucial time.

"Our home record is very good and we targeted these games but now we have to focus on the Wasps game. Wasps away can be difficult but we've played well against them the last couple of times we've been down there. I think we're a better balanced team from the one that beat Wasps at home earlier in the season and we know it will be a tough test.

"Edwards [Shaun Edwards] prides his teams on defence but we're going down there really positive and we've trained really well so hopefully we can get a good result."

Form: Newcastle won 29-17 when the two sides met at Kingston Park in round two, whilst the Falcons have never achieved a league double over Wasps in the same season. London Wasps' six game winning run came to an end against Saracens at Wembley on Boxing Day. The Londoners have won six of their last seven matches at Adams Park in all competitions. Newcastle Falcons have won just one of their last seven Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters: 12-6 at home to Gloucester on 21 November. The Falcons have lost all eight away games they have played this season.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Richard Haughton, 14 Tom Varndell , 13 Ben Jacobs (capt), 12 Riki Flutey, 11 David Lemi, 10 Dave Walder, 9 Nic Berry, 8 Andy Powell, 7 Joe Worsley, 6 Will Matthews, 5 James Cannon, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Zak Taulafo, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Jason Hobson, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Ben Broster, 19 Marty Veale, 20 Serge Betsen, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Steve Kefu, 23 Mark Van Gisbergen.

Newcastle: 15 Jeremy Manning, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 12 Luke Eves, 11 Gcobani Bobo, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Micky Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Redford Pennycook, 6 Will Welch, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 James Hudson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Grant Shiells.
Replacements: 16 Matt Hall, 17 Micky Ward, 18 Tim Ryan, 19 Filipo Levi, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Jason Spice, 22 James Fitzpatrick, 23 Danny Williams.

Date: Sunday, January 2
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Adams Park
Referee: Chris White

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