Wasps triumph in Tetley's Final
May 13, 2000

Wasps retained the English rugby union Cup on Saturday after a dramatic late recovery took them to a 31-23 win over Northampton at Twickenham on Saturday.

After taking a 19-12 lead at half-time through tries to Josh Lewsey and Trevor Leota, Wasps fell apart in the second period and let Saints go to a four-point lead with 10 minutes remaining.

But Kenny Logan dived over with seven minutes to go and Mark Denney scored on full-time to hand Saints the trophy.

An added bonus for Wasps was that they automatically qualified for next season's European Cup, the first time this has happened in the history of the competition.

Lawrence Dallaglio led out defending champions Wasps in front of a bumper 50,000 crowd at sun-drenched Twickenham determined to ensure the cup remained firmly in the grasp of the west London club.

It was Wasps' third consecutive appearance in English rugby's knock-out showpiece, while in stark contrast opponents Northampton Saints were making their first cup final appearance in nine seasons.

But Saints were boosted by the return to full fitness of England skipper and scrum-half Matt Dawson, who was making his third appearance since recovering from a shoulder injury.

Former Western Samoa stalwart Pat Lam, who has been a talisman for the club as they reached this final and the European Cup final, which follows next week, also made the starting line-up after an injury scare.

Wasps started strongly with Simon Shaw fielding a poor kick-off from Northampton's Paul Grayson and going on a charge upfield.

Within the first minute Saints were caught offside just inside their own half, but Wasps' fly-half Alex King's long-range penalty attempt drifted just wide of the target.

But Wasps took a 3-0 lead seven minutes later for an infringement at a ruck by Saints, and King sent the penalty sailing through the posts.

After being under the cosh for much of a lively opening spell, Saints broke deep into Wasps' territory and Grayson levelled the scores when the Wasps' backs were caught offside.

Grayson, who was dropped for his side's Heineken Cup semi-final victory over Llanelli but came on to kick the winning penalty, put Saints ahead for the first time on 17 minutes with a superbly-struck penalty from 48 metres.

With the first flowing move of the match Wasps scored the first try of the game through full-back Lewsey.

Lewsey, who also scored in last season's final against Newcastle Falcons, took a pass from King, handed off Saints' skipper Lam and crashed over in the corner on 23 minutes to give his side an 8-6 advantage. But King then made a terrible hash of the conversion as his kick bobbled along the ground.

Wasps' centre Rob Henderson was then sinbinned for kicking the ball away and Grayson made no mistake with the penalty to make it 9-8 to Northampton.

Twelve minutes before the interval Northampton hooker Federico Mendez was sinbinned for a similar offence and King stepped up to put Wasps back in front, 11-9.

To the bemusement of the crowd, referee Brian Campsall then sinbinned a third player, Wasps' prop Darren Molloy, again for kicking the ball away. Grayson duly slotted over the penalty to give Saints a 12-11 advantage.

But Wasps, who were by far the better side, gained their reward when hooker Leota crashed over for a try to give his side a 16-12 lead five minutes before half-time. King was wide with the conversion.

With the last kick of the first-half King extended Wasps' lead to 19-12 with a penalty, awarded after he had been felled by Tim Rodber.

Had it not been for Northampton fly half Grayson's precision goalkicking, Wasps would have had one hand on the trophy after totally dominating the opening half.

And Northampton had another let off six minutes into the second half when King failed to connect properly with a relatively straightforward penalty attempt.

In stark contrast Grayson made no mistake to land his fifth penalty of the game and haul Saints to within four points of Wasps 10 minutes after the restart.

That served to lift Northampton and four minutes later Grayson kicked a penalty to touch and from the resulting line-out Saints forwards powered their way over the line with Scottish flanker Budge Pountney getting the vital touchdown. Grayson missed the conversion to leave Saints in front at 20-19.

Despite plenty of endeavour, Wasps couldn't make their wealth of possession count and they found themselves further behind when that man Grayson struck again 26 minutes into the second half.

He successfully landed his sixth penalty of the game to set a new individual points record of 18 for the cup final.

Wasps' attacking forays became increasingly desperate as they ran the ball at every opportunity.

But their efforts were rewarded with just eight minutes of normal time remaining when Dallaglio's pass found Scottish international winger Logan out wide and he crossed over for the try to put Wasps in front again at 24-23.

However, Logan's moment of glory proved brief as he then fluffed a straightforward conversion after taking over kicking duties from King.

Grayson failed with a 52-yard penalty that fell well short and Worsley then made the tackle of the day to deny Craig Moir what looked a certain Northampton try.

In the end justice prevailed with Denney racing in to score Wasps' fourth try. Logan converted to clinch a richly deserved 31-23 win and their second consecutive English Cup final victory.

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