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Last Updated: Friday, 25 April, 2003, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
Wasps storm Sardis
PARKER PEN CUP SEMI-FINAL, SECOND LEG
Wasps' full-back Josh Lewsey heads for the Pontypridd try line
Pontypridd 17-27 Wasps
(Wasps win 61-36 on agg)
Pontypridd: Tries: Wyatt, Sweeney. Cons: Davey 2. Pen: Davey.
Wasps: Tries: Lewsey, Shaw, Worsley. Cons: A King 3. Pens: A King 2.
Att: 7,000
Wasps survived a difficult trip to Pontypridd on Friday to book their place in the final of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup with a 27-17 win.

The Zurich Premiership club, who have been in great form since the turn of the year, ran in three tries to set up an all-English final against the winners of Saturday's second semi-final between Bath and Saracens.

The win was especially sweet for Wasps scrum-half Rob Howley, even though the former Wales star had to limp off at half-time with an ankle injury.

"It has been one of my best seasons already and I can't wait for the final," an elated Howley said.

"I won the league with Cardiff and I won the (Principality) Cup with Cardiff, but never in the same season.

"At present we are in a European Cup final, second in the league and we have a chance of a play-off place.

"That is not a bad effort for anyone's first season. I love it and I think we have a bloody good side."

With Wasps boasting a 15-point advantage from the first leg at Adams Park Stadium, it was up to Pontypridd to make the running.

So when home wing Gareth Wyatt chipped the ball over Kenny Logan and then Josh Lewsey for a try inside three minutes, most of the 7,000-strong crowd at Sardis Road had hope that Ponty could overturn the deficit.

We gave it everything but in the end it was too big a gap to close
Pontypridd coach Lynn Howells

However, hopes were quickly dashed as Wasps responded quickly when flanker Joe Worsley was driven over from a five-metre lineout.

Alex King improved matters with the conversion and as Wasps took control, the fly-half added a penalty to extend the overall advantage.

An inch-perfect punt ahead from King on 19 minutes gave Lewsey enough space in which to catch and cross unopposed.

Five minutes later lock Simon Shaw popped up on the right flank to score, despite the attention of three Pontypridd tacklers, ing converting.

Although Brett Davey replied with a penalty and Ceri Sweeney with a try in first-half injury time when Wasps prop Craig Dowd was in the sin-bin, it was never likely to affect the overall outcome.

The second half was a touch tame in comparison to the opening period, with King adding a penalty 10 minutes from time for good measure but Wasps had done their job by then.

Pontypridd wing Gareth Wyatt beats Wasps' former Wales scrum-half Rob Howley to the ball
Gareth Wyatt gave Pontypridd hope with an early try

Pontypridd coach Lyn Howells was once again proud of his side, who may never play as a club at this level again as they will combine into a regional side with Bridgend next season.

"We gave it everything but in the end it was too big a gap to close. We got an early try and that set us up, but Wasps were excellent and good luck to them in the final.

"We were unfortunate with injuries and illness in the build-up to the game but the boys didn't let anyone down and the supporters didn't let the side down.

"It was an emotional night but now we have to look ahead."

Howley added: "I hope that the identity of this great club is not lost and that people get behind the regional rugby in Wales.

"It could really take off if everyone is backing the same horse."

Pontypridd kept battling to the end, but their biggest concern was the arm injury to Wales international centre Sonny Parker.

Parker went off clutching the arm he broke last January, also in a Parker Pen match against Connacht, and if broken again could keep him out of the summer tour to New Zealand and Australia.

His Wales colleague Gethin Jenkins sprained his ankle and will miss the rest of the domestic season.


Pontypridd: Brett Davey; Gareth Wyatt, Sonny Parker, Jon Bryant, Matthew Nutthall; Ceri Sweeney, Gareth Baber; Gethin Jenkins, Mefin Davies (capt), Duncan Bell, Brent Cockbain, Robert Sidoli, Richard Parks, Wayne O'Connor, Dale McIntosh.
Replacements: Shaun James, Neil Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Neil Hennessy, Mark Lewis, Jason Lewis, Kingsley Jones.

Wasps: Josh Lewsey; John Rudd, Ayoola Erinle, Mark Denney, Kenny Logan; Alex King, Rob Howley; Craig Dowd, Phil Greening, Will Green, Simon Shaw, Richard Birkett, Joe Worsley, Paul Volley, Lawrence Dallaglio (capt).
Replacements: Stuart Abbott, Mark van Gisbergen, Martyn Wood, Mark Lock, Peter Scrivener, Alistair McKenzie, Trevor Leota.

Ref: Joel Dume (France)




WATCH AND LISTEN
Nick Webb reports for BBC Wales
"The end of an era for Pontypridd in Europe"


Wasps skipper Lawrence Dallaglio
"Pontypridd are a very proud side"



SEE ALSO
Parker Pen 2002/3
11 Mar 03  |  European Club
Wasps take advantage
12 Apr 03  |  European Club


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