Newcastle Falcons vs London Wasps preview

Newcastle Falcons welcome back fit-again centre Tane Tu’ipulotu at Kingston Park on Sunday, as they host London Wasps in the final round of Anglo Welsh LV= Cup pool matches.

The hosts’ cause has been buoyed by the return of centre Tu’ipulotu, who joins Alex Tait, Charlie Amesbury and Hall Charlton in being recalled to the Newcastle back line.

In the pack director of rugby Steve Bates has had to make late adjustments after injury ruled out forward pair Mark Sorenson and Adam Balding.

Alex Walker continues at hooker after his sensational hat-trick of tries last weekend at Cardiff Blues, while Micky Ward comes into the front row on the loose head side. Samoan international Filipo Levi returns to the side in the second row, with a new-look back row seeing Mark Wilson in at blindside flanker, Brent Wilson at openside and Josh Afu at No.8.

On the bench Alex Gray and Will Welch have been named pending a clean bill of health from England’s Under-20s game against Wales on Friday, whilst skipper Carl Hayman and top points scorer Jimmy Gopperth are also among the replacements.

Insisting his side is still hungry for victory despite having no change of progression in the LV= Cup, Bates said: “Motivation has never been an issue, even though we’re already out of the competition.

“This tournament is a great opportunity for players to get game time in that first team environment, the players enjoy it and then obviously there is the fact that we’re playing in front of our home supporters, which is motivation enough in itself. We’re going out there to win the game, we believe we have a good chance and Wasps will obviously be keen to avenge our victory down there from last month.

With the North-East again struck by the elements this week, Bates allayed any fears over the game, stating: “The pitch looks okay to be honest, given the weather we’ve had over the recent weeks and months. There has been a lot of snow and rain around, but the frost covers are on and there’s no danger in terms of the match not going ahead.

“It’s not going to be bone dry, let’s be honest, but we need to move away from an angle where we come out and say we can only play on a firm, dry track. Realistically we’ve got to be able to cope with all conditions, because the reality is that pitches in February are wet and heavy.”

“It could be firmer and we would certainly like it to be, but we have to move forward, adapt our game to the conditions and just remove it as an excuse.”

Newcastle Falcons vs London Wasps
Venue : Kingston Park
Date : Sunday 7 Feb 2010 Kick-off 3pm


Newcastle Falcons

15 Alex Tait, 14 Danny Williams, 13 Rob Vickerman, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Rob Miller, 9 Hall Charlton (captain), Micky Ward, 2 Alex Walker, 3 Matt Thompson, 4 Peter Browne, 5 Filipo Levi, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Brent Wilson, 8 Josh Afu

Replacements:16 Kieran Brookes, 17 Carl Hayman, 18 Grant Shiells, 19 Will Welch, 20 Alex Gray, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Tom Biggs

London Wasps

To follow.

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