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London Wasps continued their excellent season with a 20-point victory over Bath Rugby in the PARKER PEN CHALLENGE CUP final at Madejski Stadium, Reading.
BATH RUGBY 28 LONDON WASPS 48
In a pulsating match, the 18,600 fans were treated to ten-tries, and all the passion and verve expected at a major cup final. Wasps set their stall out early, pounding the Bath try line with their brand of high octane rugby that has seen the Adams Park side become one of the most potent forces in English rugby. But early efforts did not translate into points. Alex King’s early penalty goal attempt bounced off the upright, and twice in the opening six minutes Wasps crossed the Bath line. Were it not for greasy hands and determined Bath defence, the London side would have established an early advantage.
As it was, it was Bath who – against the run of play, opened the scoring with a Olly Barkley penalty goal. But when Kevin Maggs saw yellow for illegal use of the boot after just nine minutes, the gaping holes in the Bath backline were clinically exposed by Wasps, who scored three tries in seven minutes to stamp their authority on the match. Bath recovered as Barkley scored a fine individual try after 33 minutes but still went into the break trailing 24-13.
A skilful try to Wasps scrum-half Martyn Wood opened the second half and the match was over as a contest when Scottish winger Kenny Logan won the race for the ball to score his side’s fifth try. Williams sent Grewcock off after a touch judge’s report of foul play, but Bath ignored his absence as centre Mike Tindall crossed for a consolation try. Replacement hooker Trevor Leota scored Wasps’ sixth try, with King taking his personal tally to 18 points.
Bath’s Iain Balshaw ended the scoring with a try that gave the 10,000 travelling Bath fans some cheer, but there will be no Heineken Cup rugby for the 1998 European champions again next season.
Bath coach Mike Foley said: ‘We are proud of what we have achieved in this competition this year, and have enjoyed the challenge, but today wasn’t our day.’
Wasps captain Larwrence Dallaglio was unsurprisingly delighted with the result, he said: ‘We targeted this competition this season, and we have beaten some very good sides to get here. We had a difficult period in November, but we had two excellent games against Stade Francais and we haven’t looked back since. Playing in finals is what the game is all about. You have enjoy moments like this, because they dot come around very often. Bath showed a lot of courage and kept managing to score tries and stay in the game, but everytime they came back, we showed we had an extra gear, and in the end won comfortably.
BATH RUGBY 28 LONDON WASPS 48
HT: 13-24 Attendance: 18,074
Bath Rugby: Tries – O Barkley, J Skaysbrook, M Tindall, I Balshaw; Pens – O Barkley 2; Con – O Barkley.
London Wasps: Tries – J Lewsey, F Waters, P Greening, M Wood, K Logan, T Leota; Pens – A King 2; Cons – A King 6.
Yellow card: Kevin Maggs (Bath 10)
Red card: Danny Grewcock (Bath 61)
Referee: Nigel Williams (Wales)