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Sunday, May 16, 1999 Published at 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK

Sport: Rugby Union

Wasps win Cup at last

Crowning moment: Alex King beats Gary Armstrong to score Wasps' opening try

Newcastle 19-29 Wasps

Wasps at last shook off their Twickenham hoodoo as they beat Newcastle to win the Tetley's Bitter Cup for the first time in their history.

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The London side, who had lost their previous four cup finals, deservedly came out on top in a generally drab game that was illuminated by two pieces of individual brilliance from Alex King and Josh Lewsey.

King scored the only try of the first half with a sprint through and chip over the top and Lewsey claimed a second after the break when he intercepted Va'aiga Tuigamala's pass.

[ image: Va'aiga Tuigamala desperately tries to breach the Wasps defence]
Va'aiga Tuigamala desperately tries to breach the Wasps defence
Tuigamala, who battled all day despite suffering a painful shoulder injury, claimed a late consolation try for Newcastle.

Skipper Mark Weedon lifted the trophy for Wasps, who put the bitter disappointment of last season's final defeat by Saracens firmly behind them.

"After losing the final last season we were all disappointed. We felt we'd let ourselves down," Weedon said.

"But this season everybody has taken responsibility for the decision making and when Nigel took over the full time coaching we were always on our way.

"We have the prospect of being third in the League after winning the cup. That represents a pretty good season."

Wasps owed much to their pack - and particularly to their back row, who were superbly marshalled by England captain Lawrence Dallaglio.

England's teenage star Jonny Wilkinson kicked 14 points for Newcastle, but he was outscored by Wasps' veteran full-back Gareth Rees, who first played in the final 13 years ago and this time added 19 with the boot.

King's crowning glory

After the two kickers had exchanged early penalties King lit up a lacklustre first-half with a scintillating solo score.

[ image: Wasps hooker Trevor Leota closes in on Martin Shaw]
Wasps hooker Trevor Leota closes in on Martin Shaw
The Wasps fly-half picked up the ball after a back row move, took on Wilkinson and beat England's teenage prodigy for pace.

After roasting Wilkinson, King was faced with two covering defenders, but he calmly chipped over the top before racing through to touch down under the posts.

Rees added another penalty to take Wasps at least two scores ahead - but in first half injury time Wilkinson replied to make it 16-6 for the London side at half-time.

Inga halted

King put Wasps further ahead with a left-footed drop-goal early in the second half.

But Newcastle hit back and had their big moment to force their way back into the match in the 57th minute.

[ image: Newcastle's injured player-boss Rob Andrew watches from the stands]
Newcastle's injured player-boss Rob Andrew watches from the stands
Wasps were well on top and closing in on the Newcastle try-line when Tuigamala intercepted a popped pass and sprinted down the left flank.

But the former All Black, his injury clearly a problem, was tiring as he entered Wasps territory and Lewsey was able to swoop to the corner and halt Tuigamala with a stunning cover tackle.

Rees and Wilkinson continued to find the target with their kicks - but Wasps put the game out of sight with their second try.

This time it was Tuigamala who was caught in possession, as Lewsey instinctively snatched the ball, juggled with it and hared over the line.

By now Wasps were safe, but Tuigamala claimed the try his efforts deserved right at the death - and it was another intercepted effort, although this time no-one was going to catch him.

Wasps were left to celebrate a historic win that finally makes up for their previous disappointments.


Newcastle: Legg, Naylor, Shaw, May, Tuigamala, Wilkinson, Armstrong, Graham, Nesdale, Hurter, Archer, Weir, Walton, Beattie, Arnold. Replacements : Horton, Massey, Charlton, Peel, Vyvyan, Underwood, Cartmell.

Wasps: Rees, Lewsey, Waters, Denney, Sampson, King, Gomersall, Molloy, Leota, Green, Weedon, Shaw, Dallaglio, Scrivener, Worsley. Replacements : Friday, Beardshaw, Logan, Henderson, Alexopolous, Volley, Black.

Referee : S Lander (RFU)

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