Coaches play down result prior to cup final
May 10, 2000
Wasps' boss Nigel Melville claimed that his side's crushing 54-12 victory over Northampton would not give them a psychological edge for the Tetley's Bitter Cup final on Saturday.
The clubs meet again at Twickenham in four days time, but Northampton will be a totally different proposition to the one that seven-try Wasps ran ragged
Saints' boss John Steele made 14 changes from the team that beat Heineken Cup semi-final opponents Llanelli two days ago, and all his big guns are ready to return for the Twickenham showdown.
"It was a good work out, but I don't think that we have gained any psychological advantage," said rugby director Melville. "Finals are very much one-off occasions."
The game was tinged with controversy when Northampton's Argentine prop Martin Scelzo seemingly attempted to gouge Wasps' England lock Simon Shaw.
"Scelzo went for Shaw's head, high on his face. I was quite surprised that Shaw didn't respond," Melville said.
As Scelzo was sent to the sin-bin by referee Ed Morrison, who later confirmed that he had despatched him for dangerous play.
"If it had been a gouging incident, then it would have been a red card," Morrison said.
Wasps were in total control throughout, wing Kenny Logan and full-back Josh Lewsey both helping themselves to try doubles, while fly-half Alex King kept the scoreboard ticking over with 16 points from five conversions and two penalties.
"We went out to win this game, but when you have three matches in six days, then you can't possibly play the same side in all three," said Northampton rugby director John Steele.
"I was very proud of the performance tonight - a lot of young players stood up and were counted."
Steele played down the Scelzo incident, adding, "I didn't think there was anything untoward in the match - I thought it was a relatively clean game."
But both Melville and Steele agreed that the sin bin was now an area clouded in confusion, especially as it had been originally designed to deal with technical offences rather than foul play.