Wasps v Newcastle, Aviva Premiership, January 2
Wasps out to bounce back against Falcons
January 2, 2011
Joe Simpson struggles to control the ball during Wasps' defeat to Saracens at Wembley © PA Photos
Newcastle's 14-day Christmas break comes to an end on Sunday as they face London Wasps at Adams Park in the Aviva Premiership.
The Falcons have not played since their Amlin Challenge Cup victory over Exeter on December 19 after their Boxing Day match against Leeds was postponed twice. The Falcons have not won in their last seven league games and will be hoping that the period has given them sufficient time to rejuvenate their hopes.
London Wasps go into the game on the back of a 13-6 defeat to Saracens at Wembley on Boxing Day. Tony Hanks' men will be desperate to get that torrid game out of their heads and return to the kind of form that saw them win their previous six games.
London Wasps - Player to Watch: Riki Flutey is back from injury and will be hoping to add further attacking edge to the Wasps' backline outside the reliable Dave Walder.
London Wasps - Team News: Joe Worsley moves to openside in place of Serge Betsen. Tim Payne returns in the front-row, meaning a move to tight-head for Zak Taulafo. Nic Berry is named at scrum-half in place of the injured Joe Simpson.
Newcastle - Player to Watch: The Falcons have lacked punch in recent weeks but the return to fitness of hard-hitting centre Tane Tu'ipulotu could see them making a few more dents in midfield this weekend.
Newcastle - Team News: Falcons boss Alan Tait has made just one change to his starting line-up, with Euan Murray replaced by Kieran Brookes at tight-head due to his refusal to play on Sundays given his religious beliefs.
Key Battle: Jimmy Gopperth will escape examination by Serge Betsen but still needs to get his side on the front-foot against a Wasps side that will hope to play a quick, expansive game.
Trivia: Newcastle have never achieved a league double over Wasps in the same season.
Stats: Wasps are top of the tackling charts in the Premiership having made 1053.
"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." - Tony Hanks laments his side's loss to Sarries.
"I'm a big believer in performance over results at the moment and the players who have got the jersey this week have got the chance to impress. There are a lot of players in the squad itching at the bit to get their chance against Sale and as long as the guys perform, they might be in the week after." - Newcastle boss Alan Tait backs up his team selection
Fantasy: Wasps fly-half Dave Walder has scored 73 points so far this season in the ESPNscrum Fantasy Rugby Game - do you fancy his chances this weekend?
Prediction: Wasps to return to winning ways with a romping bonus-point victory.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry
Toulon's Heineken Cup final victory over Clermont Auvergne may have ended a long title drought for the Top 14 club but two of their players are no strangers to success