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Match Preview: Wasps v Newcastle

By | Published November 17, 2017

 

Aviva Premiership action returns this weekend as Wasps look to climb the table when they host Newcastle on Saturday. The home side slid to four defeats on the bounce in the league, but returned to form with an impressive victory over Northampton before the break for the Anglo Welsh Cup. Whereas the Falcons will look to get back to winning ways in the Premiership after falling to back to back defeats following their impressive start that saw them win four of their first five games.

Both sides will be buoyed after convincing wins last week in the Anglo Welsh Cup, however Dai Young’s Wasps outfit will be out for revenge following the Falcons win at the Ricoh the week before in the same competition. The score finished 53-41 to Newcastle that day, but expect a fair tighter affair on Saturday evening as both sides senior players return to action.

A bonus point victory for Wasps will see them leapfrog Newcastle in the table whereas the Falcons could find potentially themselves in the play-off places at the end of the weekend with another win at the Ricoh.

As expected Wasps will be without a trio of England stars in Nathan Hughes, Joe Launchbury and Elliot Daly all of whom are unavailable due to their Autumn Internationals commitments, but the likes of James Haskell and Jimmy Gopperth, who Is making his 50th appearance for the club all return to the side that is looking to win their first home game in the league since the opening weekend of the season. However the biggest boost for Wasps is the return of Kyle Eastmond who is making his first appearance of the season after rupturing his Achilles back in February.

Newcastle have handed a Premiership debut to flanker Gary Graham who has impressed in the cup competitions, whilst French international Maxime Mermoz makes his first start in the league for the club. Toby Flood is recalled to the starting fifteen after being rested for the first two rounds of the Anglo Welsh Cup. Like Wasps, the visitors also have a number of players on international duty, six in total but prop Jon Welsh starts after not being selected for Scotland despite his call up earlier this week.

Key Men 

Ashley Johnson

Image result for ashley johnson rugby

Will Ashley Johnson celebrate his new contract with a win this weekend?

For all the flair of this Wasps side, Johnson at hooker has been a key component of Wasps revival over recent weeks. He was mightily impressive in the win at Northampton marking a dominant performance up front with a try. He signed a new contract at the start of this week and on the day of his 150th appearance for the club his contribution at the set-piece and around the park will be vital if Wasps are to give their exciting backs a chance to shine.

Toby Flood

Toby Flood

Toby Flood pictured during an appearance during the European Challenge earlier this season, can he inspire the Falcons to victory on Saturday?

The former Leicester man is in his second spell for the Falcons and made his first Premiership start since returning to the club in the 30-13 defeat to the Tigers. The fly-half was outperformed by George Ford that day, but when on form Flood remains as dangerous as ever. With the likes of the influential Niki Goneva on international duty, the former England man will need to be at his best.

Prediction 

Newcastle have been the surprise package so far this season including an excellent win over Bath at the Rec, and they have already won at the Ricoh this season, so will certainly provide a test for Wasps. However the home side looked back to their best before the break for the Anglo Welsh Cup, and despite missing a number players to injury and England duty, Wasps should run out winners by 10-15 points.

Wasps

15 Willie Le Roux
14 Christian Wade
13 Juan De Jongh
12 Kyle Eastmond
11 Josh Bassett
10 Jimmy Gopperth
9 Dan Robson
1 Simon McIntyre
2 Ashley Johnson (captain)
3 Jake Cooper-Woolley
4 Will Rowlands
5 James Gaskell
6 James Haskell
7 Thomas Young
8 Guy Thompson

Replacements
16 Nathan Charles
17 Ben Harris
18 Marty Moore
19 Kearnan Myall
20 Nizaam Carr
21 Joe Simpson
22 Rob Miller
23 Gabiriele Lovobalavu

Newcastle Falcons

15 Simon Hammersley
14 Alex Tait
13 Maxime Mermoz
12 Josh Matavesi
11 Sinoti Sinoti
10 Toby Flood
9 Sam Stuart
1 Rob Vickers
2 Scott Lawson
3 Jon Welsh
4 Calum Green
5 Sean Robinson
6 Will Welch (captain)
7 Gary Graham
8 Mark Wilson

Replacements
16 Kyle Cooper
17 Sami Mavinga
18 Scott Wilson
19 Will Witty
20 Nili Latu
21 Joel Hodgson
22 Juan Pablo Socino
23 Chris Harris