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Wasps clinch Zurich Premiership title

31 May 2003
Wasps clinch Zurich Premiership title

Wasps set the pace in the first half, the tactical acumen of halfback pairing Rob Howley and King putting Gloucester on the back foot for long periods as the Londoners built up an impressive lead.

Indeed, it was a dream start for Wasps as their three-quarter line cut through the normally resolute Gloucester defence, centre Stuart Abbott – a suprise selection for England's upcoming Australasian tour – creating the space for England fullback Josh Lewsey to streak under the posts in the first minute to give King an easy conversion and set up a 7-0 lead.

From there on in, save for a single penalty from 'Cherry and White' No.10 Ludovic Mercier, it was all Wasps as the superior attacking skills and organisation of skipper Lawrence Dallaglio's men pinned Gloucester back into their own half and constantly frustrated the West Country outfit.

Most remarkable was the stilted performance of the much-vaunted Gloucester pack who came off a distinct second-best to their Wasps counterparts, allowing the back row trio of Dallaglio, Joe Worsley and Paul Volley to make huge yardage down the middle of the park and create mayhem in the Gloucester ranks.

It was King who was to be the central figure of the day, the fly-half finishing off the match with a personal tally of 24 points from two drop-goals, four penalties and three conversions.

The England pivot looks to have peaked at just the right time for England's upcoming tour and if he shows the sort of form in Australia and New Zealand as he did at Twickenham, he could find himself as the main understudy to Wilkinson at international level.

With the Wasps pack in the ascendancy, King's boot kept chipping away at Gloucester to such an extent that when Lewsey went over for his second try in the 40th minute of the first half, the result looked a foregone conclusion.

The second half continued in much the same vein, with Gloucester completely outplayed and Wasps running rampant on the wide open expanses of Twickenham.

Time and time again, the Wasps attack came flowing over the ranks of the 'Cherry and Whites' and while their defensive lines held for the most part, there was precious little for the legions of Gloucester fans to cheer about.

The final nail was put in the Gloucester coffin when Wasps flanker Joe Worsley scored his side's third try in the 31st minute of the second half, the England man diving Superman style under the posts to signal the start of his side's celebrations.

This win gives Wasps their third league title, following on from 1990 and 1997, and is a testament to the immense form the High Wycombe-based club have found in the latter half of the season.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:Pen: Mercier

For London Wasps:Tries: Lewsey 2, WorsleyCons: King 3Pens: King 4DGs: King 2

For more news, try out Gloucester Rugby v Wasps

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