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Andrew expects an extra special.

Rob andrew is prepared for another nail-biter when he sits in the Twickenham dugout tomorrow to watch his Newcastle Falcons side take on Sale Sharks in the Powergen Cup final.

Three years ago, Andrew bit his nails down to the quick before Dave Walder's try five minutes into injury time secured a dramatic 30-27 win the the 2001 final against Harlequins.

And he thinks it could be even closer this time!

"If we are honest, none of us can call this game," said the Falcons' director of rugby before setting out with his team today for their London base.

"Realistically, no-one can put their hand on their heart and say with any certainty that either Sale or Newcastle will win tomorrow and it will probably go down to the last minute again.

"Indeed, sod's law says it will go into extra time and I have got a gut feeling that this is what is going to happen ( after all, we have drawn our last two Premiership games against Leeds and Leicester."

As expected, the Falcons are without Mark Andrews as well as Jonny Wilkinson for tomorrow's match and Andrew explained: "Mark's calf is still not 100% and he has not played enough rugby, so we can't afford to risk him, especially with Garath's (Archer) bad back.

"But he hasn't really played for the past three months, so we won't really miss him and we have moved on since then."

After under-performing in the Premiership for most of the season, Andrew admits that the Cup could be Newcastle's saving grace, especially as the winner's are guaranteed a place in next season's Heineken Cup.

"The Heineken Cup is the big one for all the players, both ours and Sale's," confirmed Andrew.

"Sale have some very good finishers, with their back three outstanding, while we have three of the Premiership's top 10 try-scorers. If the officials control the breakdown and both sides are allowed to play, we should see a high-scoring game.

"Then it will come down to how good the respective defences are and the best one will win.

"Equally, victory will go to the side whose top players can produce that little bit extra ( and to this extent I think our experience in having a lot of the players who won the 2001 cup still in our squad will be a big help."
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 16, 2004
Words:392
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