Jump to main content
Premiership Rugby

Preview – Zurich Premiership Final

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

The winner-takes-all clash is a departure from previous seasons in which the Premiership title was decided by which team finished top of the table. In every other year of league competition, the Premiership trophy would already be gleaming in a Kingsholm cabinet courtesy of their top-of-the-table finish some 15 points ahead of their nearest rivals, but this year the Cherry-and-Whites' must replicate their form in a one-off showpiece event.

While having to surmount this extra obstacle may not down too well amongst the Gloucester faithful, many of whom believe their beloved team are already moral victors, the match nevertheless provides a fitting showpiece on which to end the season and Wasps will be keen to spring an ambush their former director of rugby Nigel Melville and his band of players.

Certainly, the sides appear to be evenly matched, with honours even between the side during the regular Zurich Premiership season – Wasps winning by 23-16 at Adams park and Gloucester winning by 24-17 at Kingsholm.

Gloucester's finishing position gave them an express ticket to the Final, while second-placed Wasps had to overcome third-placed Northampton Saints for the right to challenge for the title and that exertion, coupled with their bruising Parken Pen Challenge Cup Final appearance against Bath last weekend could see them arrived at Twickenham a touch battered and bruised.

Conversely, the men from the West Country will be fully rested after a three-week lay-off since they finished their Premiership campaign and will have the extra motivation of providing departing French stars Olivier Azam and Ludovic Mercier with a fitting send-off.

Whatever the result, the match is likely to provide plenty of hard-edged entertainment for a predicted 40,000 strong crowd who have been wooed by the marketing slogan 'One Day. One Champion'.

Wasps hooker Phil Greening – who starts the match on the bench – belives that the Super 12 style finale to the season is one innovation that is here to stay : "It's going to be fantastic – it's a new concept which will take people some  time to get used to but it's a great occasion and a great way to finish  the season," said the England Sevens skipper.

"From a spectator's point of view it is fantastic that the top and second placed clubs are battling it out for the Championship.

"We have all bought into it and if Gloucester say they are the best then they have to come here tomorrow and beat us first.

"We have had a good run-in with a good game last weekend against Bath and are fully match fit. We are on a bit of a roll and tomorrow should be great. I think it is the way forward for rugby in terms of good PR and attracting new fans, sponsors and players."

Players to watch:

For Gloucester: The mighty Cherry-and-White pack will take some stopping, not least England tighthead Phil Vickery who is back to fitness after a mid-season injury lay-off and eager to get into the fray. Other notable men in the Gloucester ranks include centre Henry Paul, winger James Simpson-Daniel and flanker Jake Boer.

For Wasps: The Londoners' chief inspiration is likely to be skipper Lawrence Dallaglio, his strength in the tackle and rugby know-how making him a key man. Watch out too for South African born centre Stuart Abbott, one of the suprise selections for the upcoming England tour of Australasia.

Head-to-head: Andy Gomarsall (Gloucester) v Rob Howley (London Wasps):Realistically jostling with Kyran Bracken for the England bench spot on tour in Australasia next month, Gomarsall will be keen to send a message to England coach Clive Woodward on Saturday, with his sniping fringe play being a constant threat, although decision-making is perhaps not his strongest suit. In the vastly experienced Howley, he has an opponent of the highest class, who may well use his cunning to outfox the Gloucester defence.

Prediction: Difficult to see Gloucester falling at the final hurdle given their immense form for the vast majority of the season but they will be given a run for their money by an in-form Wasps side. Nevertheless, given that this is Gloucester's second appearance at Twickenham, they should have the big match temperament necessary to take the victory. Planet Rugby Prediction: Gloucester by 8 points

Gloucester (squad): Backs: Simon Amor, Thinus Delport, Terry Fanolua, Marcel Garvey, Andy Gomarsall, Ludovic Mercier, Henry Paul, James Simpson-Daniel, Clive Stuart-Smith, Robert Todd.

Forwards: Olivier Azam, Jake Boer, Pete Buxton, Chris Collins, Mark Cornwell, Andy Deacon, Adam Eustace, Rob Fidler, Andy Hazell, Junior Paramore, Phil Vickery, Trevor Woodman.

London Wasps: 15 Mark Van Gisbergen, 14 Josh Lewsey, 13 Fraser Waters, 12 Stuart Abbott, 11 Kenny Logan, 10 Alex King, 9 Rob Howley, 8 Lawrence Dallaglio (captain), 7 Paul Volley, 6 Joe Worsley, 5 Richard Birkett, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Will Green, 2 Trevor Leota, 1 Craig Dowd.Replacements: 16 Martyn Wood, 17 Phil Greening, 18 Mark Denney, 19 Ayoola Erinle, 20 Mark Lock, 21 Peter Scrivener, 22 Alistair McKenzie. Referee: Tony Spreadbury Kick-off: 15.30 (BST)

Categories

Next Story

Season ticket competition winner announced

Previous Story

Rotherham swoop for Leinster hooker

Choose your club

Bath Rugby
Bristol Bears
Exeter Chiefs
Gloucester Rugby
Harlequins
Leicester Tigers
London Irish
Newcastle Falcons
Northampton Saints
Sale Sharks
Saracens
Wasps
Worcester Warriors
No Club