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The BBC's Ian Robetson
"It was one of the most exciting finals in recent years"
 real 28k

Wasps captain Lawrence Dallaglio
"I was beginning to think we were playing rugby league"
 real 28k

Saints director of coaching John Steele
"We've got more important things to worry about"
 real 28k

Saturday, 13 May, 2000, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
Wasps deny Saints cup double

Lawsey stretches over to score the first try
Wasps 31-23 Northampton

Holders Wasps sealed a thrilling win to retain their Tetley's Bitter Cup at the expense of the Heineken Cup finalists.

Altough the eventual margin of victory was more than a converted try, the Londoners' lead was just a single point until Mark Denney's breakaway effort in injury time.

Key scores
Early penalties and Lewsey try puts Wasps 8-6 up
Two Grayson penalties before Leota try
King penalty puts holders 19-12 ahead at half-time
Two more Grayson kicks and Pountney try puts Saints 23-19 ahead
Dallaglio sets up Logan for 24-23 before Denney seals it at the death
Wasps were the better side, scoring four tries to Northampton's one.

Saints' main weapon was the reliable kicking of England star Paul Grayson, who set a new record for the event with six penalties.

Last month he kicked Wasps out of the Heineken Cup but the London side had the last laugh to ensure their place in next season's European competition.

Budge Pountney scored Northampton's only try, with Josh Lewsey, Trevor Leota and Kenny Logan going over for a Wasps side inspired by skipper Lawrence Dallaglio.

The former England captain was instrumental in most of Wasps' best moves, including Logan's crucial try which came as Saints led 23-19.

Star man: Lawrence Dallaglio discusses matters with the referee

Dallaglio outshone current national skipper Matt Dawson, who played despite his recent shoulder injury.

Holders Wasps started the stronger with fly-half Alex King opening the scoring from a seventh-minute penalty before Grayson levelled from 48 metres.

The England man added three more first half penalties as Wasps' Rob Henderson and Paul Volley were both sinbinned for kicking the ball away, as was Saints hooker Frederico Mendez.

The players are obviously very disappointed - it is a big blow because we were in it right up to the end

Northampton director of rugby John Steele
But despite being temporarily reduced to 13 men the holders remained the better side and moved to a half-time lead thanks to tries from Lewsey and Leota.

Lewsey scored in last season's final victory over Newcastle and was the first man to go over in this year's match.

The full-back took a pass from King, handed off Saints' skipper Pat Lam and crashed over in the corner on 23 minutes.

Grayson's six penalties set a new record in Twickenham finals
King made a mess of his conversion, as he did when Leota crashed over five minutes before half-time.

But the Wasps kicker did land two penalties to ensure his side was 19-12 ahead at half time.

In the second half Wasps wasted an early chance to extend their lead when they had a line-out on the Saints line.

And within minutes the holders had lost all their seven-point interval lead in two crucial blows.

First came Grayson's fifth penalty, reducing Saints' deficit to four points.

We want to score tries, which is the exuberance of youth, but in those last 20 minutes today, there was a bit of steel out there

Wasps rugby director Nigel Melville
And then Pountney touched over from fine work from Lam after a scrum 10 yards from the Wasps' line.

Grayson's missed coversion left Saints just a point ahead of their rivals midway through the second half.

And the Midlands side went further clear after mistakes from Wasps two try-scorers.

Leota made a mess of a kick deep in Wasps' territory and then Lewsey gave away a penalty.

Pountney's try gave Saints hope

Grayson's kick nudged the inside of the post to hand his side a 23-19 lead.

But Wasps were to end the stronger and ruin Saints' hopes of a first senior trophy in 120 years.

Eight minutes from time a powerful break left Dallaglio just a yard from the line.

The England flanker was unable to reach over but was smart enough to pass out to Logan on the left for the Scot to easily run over.

Fans enjoyed a sunny Twickenham day out

Logan himself missed the conversion to leave the sides just a point apart once again, but with Wasps narrowly ahead this time.

Saints' best chance to get back ahead came when Grayson was well short with a penalty attempt from halfway.

Wasps were also indebted to Joe Worsley for a superb saving tackle on Scotland wing Craig Moir wich denied Saints a late try..

And within minutes it was Wasps who were celebrating as Denney charged over, finger pointing to the sky in injury time.


Wasps: Lewsey, Roiser, Denney, Henderson, Logan, King, Wood, Molloy, Leota, Green, Shaw, Reed, Worsley, Volley, Dallaglio. Replacements: Friday, Ufton, Waters, Le Chevalier, Macer, Weedon, Scrivener.

Northampton: Beal, Moir, Bateman, Allen, Cohen, Grayson, Dawson, Pagel, Mendez, Stewart, Newman, Metcalfe, Rodber, Pountney, Lam. Replacements: Malone, A. Hepher, Northey, Walter, Scelzo, Phillips, MacKinnon.

Referee: Brian Campsall (RFU)

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See also:

11 May 00 | Rugby Union
Saints v Wasps: No quarter given
09 May 00 | Rugby Union
Wasps destroy Saints' seconds
07 May 00 | Rugby Union
Saints send Scarlets crashing
11 May 00 | Rugby Union
Key players: Northampton
11 May 00 | Rugby Union
Key players: Wasps