FALCONS lock Mark Sorenson is relishing the chance to have another crack at Wasps in today’s EDF Energy Cup crunch clash – and he’s promising a different result this time.
The Falcons crashed 35-12 at Wasps in the Premiership last weekend but, while they field the same pack at the Madejski Stadium today, they welcome back big guns Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood in a hard-hitting back line.
And Sorenson is intent on supplying the quality ball for them to take Newcastle into the cup semi-finals.
“If we win this one, it kicks a lot of things on and it’s not often you get a chance to play the same team again the following week,” said Sorenson.
“Sometimes you wish that you can to put things right and this is a chance to do that. Some people think we did pretty well last week, but we still lost and we have been pretty hard on ourselves.
“Okay, the set phase may have gone well and from a forwards point of view, it is first and foremost the set phase but it’s what happens at the break-down after that and that’s where we can show improvement and that’s what we been working hard on.”
Sorenson concedes it won’t be easy against the European champions on their home patch and dismissed the idea that Wasps may not be up for the EDF Cup and concentrating more on the Premiership and the Heineken.
“They are fairly abrasive and quite proud and we need to match that if we are to get a result,” said Sorenson.
“And we are confident we can do that. If there are any scores to settle it is all about the scoreboard, and making sure we don’t leak silly tries.”
Besides the boost of having Wilkinson and Flood back in midfield alongside Jamie Noon with Mathew Tait at full-back, Sorenson – who has played in every game so far this season – is delighted to see countryman Carl Hayman arrive. The massive All Black prop is on the bench and likely to get on at some stage which Sorenson reckons can only be a good thing for Newcastle.
“Signing Carl is a great move and his arrival is good for the club,” said Sorenson. “If nothing else it’s good to have another Kiwi around when we cop all the abuse from the rest of the lads!
“Seriously, he is a mountain of a man and he was pretty clued-up at training despite only just getting here and having some time off. He’s keen to get on and get a bit of run so I’m looking forward to that. I’m feeling pretty good even though I have played every game so far and I hope that continues.
“With my mate Jason Oakes having to retire we are a bit light in the lock department, but we have Sean Tomes back from being on loan and he now has a huge opportunity.
“It is up to people like me to make sure that he gets all the help he needs to be able to step up the mark.”
Tomes is on the bench today alongside Hayman and may also get a chance to put down a marker as Wilkinson and Flood return at 10 and 12 . Wilkinson will be up against Wasps young gun Danny Cipriani who scored two tries last week.
Wasps welcome back England captain Phil Vickery who is reunited with fellow international front rowers Tom Payne and Raphael Ibanez for the first time in eight months. Simon Shaw and Lawrence Dallaglio are also back in the starting line-up, but , behind the scrum, Wasps are unchanged for the fourth week in succession.
“The game will be a big challenge for our back line again, as we will be up against one of the most positive sides in English rugby for the second time within a week,” said director of rugby Ian McGeechan. “We know this is going to be a very difficult game to win.
“Last week Newcastle proved what a positive force they are, so we are expecting a very competitive 80 minutes against them.”
LONDON WASPS: M Van Gisbergen, P Sackey, F Waters, R Flutey, T Voyce, D Cipriani, E Riordan, T Payne, R Ibanez, P Vickery, S Shaw, G Skivington, J Hart, J Haskell, L Dallaglio (capt). Replacements: J Ward, N Adams, R Birkett, D Leo, S Amor, J Lewsey, R Webber.
NEWCASTLE FALCONS: M Tait, T May, J Noon, T Flood, J Rudd, J Wilkinson, J Grindal, J Golding, M Thompson, D Wilson, A Perry, M Sorenson, G Parling, B Woods, P Dowson (capt). Replacements: A Long, J McDonnell, C Hayman, S Tomes, B Wilson, L Dickson, T Visser.