Wasps v Sale – Premiership semi-final, May 7, 2005

Date: 6 Feb 2019

One of the most memorable meetings between Wasps and Sale came in the semi-final of the 2005 Zurich Premiership.

It was the last season in which the sides finishing second and third in the table met in the only play-off, with the table-toppers going straight to the final. Wasps had home advantage, after finishing five points behind Leicester and 13 clear of Sale. 

It was truly a game of two halves, with the visitors leading at half-time, but swept away in the second-half.

After a Charlie Hodgson penalty put Sale ahead, Alex King’s drop-goal levelled the scores. Wasps then failed to gather the restart and Sébastien Chabal went over for a converted try.  

Wasps regained the lead when Tom Rees finished off a stunning move, launched by King from his own line. Then, with Sale pressing, Wasps won a turnover and King fed Josh Lewsey who raced 90 metres for a sensational score. Mark van Gisbergen’s two conversions meant Wasps led 17-10, but tries from Jason White and Mark Cueto, one of them converted, gave Sale a 22-17 half-time lead.

In a dominant second-half, any fears that Wasps might miss out on a third successive Premiership title soon faded, with King creating tries for Ayoola Erinle and Simon Shaw. Van Gisbergen converted both and added four penalties to make the final score 43-22.

Wasps went on to crush Leicester 39-14 in the final, spoiling Martin Johnson and Neil Back’s farewell party and giving Warren Gatland a triumphant send-off. His three-and-a-half years as Director of Rugby had brought three Premiership titles, a European Challenge Cup and the biggest prize of all, the Heineken Cup.

Sale’s consolation came with a second Challenge Cup triumph. A year later, they avenged their defeat by beating Wasps in the play-off semi-final, before thrashing Leicester 45-20 and claiming their first Premiership title.

Don't miss out on your chance to see us face Sale Sharks on Saturday 23 February at Ricoh Arena. Adult tickets start from just £17 with Under 10s free in selected areas.