Wasps beat Saints in cup final warm-up
May 10, 2000
Northampton crashed to a fourth successive Premiership defeat after their second team were predictably outclassed by Wasps at Franklin's Gardens last night.
As a dress rehearsal for Saturday's Tetley's Bitter Cup final between the same clubs at Twickenham, the match was a pointless exercise.
Northampton boss John Steele rested 14 of the side on Heineken Cup semi-final duty against Llanelli two days ago and a powerful Wasps outfit containing nine internationals ran riot.
Saints, whose hopes of top-flight European rugby next term now rest on winning either the Tetley's Bitter Cup or Heineken Cup, were lucky to finish with 15 men.
Their Argentinian prop Martin Scelzo amazingly avoided a red card despite twice seemingly attempting to eye gouge Wasps' England lock Simon Shaw.
The sickening 36th-minute incident prompted only a sin-binning from 1995 World Cup final referee Ed Morrison, permitting Scelzo an astonishing let off.
Scelzo followed Wasps' Samoan hooker Trevor Leota off the pitch, Leota having been yellow-carded for a reckless high tackle on Scelzo himself 10 minutes earlier.
Judging by tonight's evidence the Cup final promises to be a no-holds-barred contest.
Northampton, whose touchline dug-out resembled a who's who of international rugby with Pat Lam, Matt Dawson, Garry Pagel and Federico Mendez among those watching, were swept aside.
Wasps' victory closed the gap to three points behind sixth-placed Bristol led 30-7 at half-time having produced some thrilling running, handling and support play.
They clocked up seven tries in total two each from wing Kenny Logan and full-back Josh Lewsey, while flanker Paul Volley, prop Darren Molloy and centre Rob Henderson also got in on the scoring act.
Wasps had posted a half-century with 25 minutes still remaining and with the game won rugby director Nigel Melville was able to make a raft of second-half substitutions.
Skipper Lawrence Dallaglio was among those who left the action early, giving him an opportunity to recharge batteries for Saturday's Cup final.
It was a romp for Wasps at the scene of their Heineken Cup quarter-final demise against Northampton three weeks ago, and although the Saints displayed admirable spirit there was nothing they could do to keep the Londoners in check.
Logan struck for his try after just 13 minutes and with fly-half Alex King kicking beautifully it was only a matter of time before Wasps got the scoreboard clicking over.
Logan prospered from an error by Northampton full-back Richard Jackson and when the impressive Lewsey scorched across after taking a defence-splitting King pass the match was as good as over inside 20 minutes.
Jackson atoned for his mistake with a try nine minutes before the break, but Wasps were in no mood to relinquish their grip and further touchdowns by Logan and Volley meant they were out of sight by half-time.
Touchdowns by Henderson, Molloy and Lewsey during the opening 15 minutes of the second half meant Wasps could take their foot off the pedal.
All that remained for a crowd of just over 5,600 to witness was a consolation try by Saints' hooker Steve Walter and a late drop goal from Wasps' replacement Dafydd Lewis who had replaced King, kicker of 16 points.