Northampton 11-24 Wasps: Dai Youngs men replicate European form as they romp to first win at the Gardens in over a decade
Wasps romped to a 24-11 win against Saints on Friday night to strengthen their play-off hopes
Tries from Dan Robson, Rob Miller and Josh Barrett gave Dai Youngs men an unexpected 24-3 lead at half-time
Stephen Myler’s six points plus a late score from Sam Dickinson gave Saints a small consolation
The win was Wasps first win away at Northampton since 2005
BY STEVEN SMITH
Wasps demonstrated their explosive attacking play to blow fellow play-off chasers Northampton away in the first half as they eased to a 24-11 victory in the Aviva Premiership at Franklins Gardens.
Dai Youngs men, who had not won away at Saints since 2005, had demolished Leinster 51-10 to secure a home quarter-final in the Champions Cup last weekend and resumed that sort of form on Friday as they strengthened their chances of a top-four finish.
Scrum-half Dan Robson particularly, standing in for the injured Joe Simpson, came in and put in a performance of the highest quality for the visitors. The 23-year-old’s speed of recovery at the breakdown combined with his fantastic individual score and free-flowing running game guided Wasps to what was only their third win in their last eight outings.
The Saints, in fact, had not lost at Franklin’s Gardens in any tournament since Saracens were the visitors at the start of November but they spent most of the opening 40 in disarray with the visitors racing to a 24-3 lead at the break through 10 points from Jimmy Gopperth and tries from man of the match Robson, Rob Miller and Josh Barrett.
Stephen Myler added to his first half penalty with another shot from the tee three minutes after the restart to take advantage of Nathan Hughes seeing yellow. Saints, though, despite finding some fluency could not reduce the deficit further as trip after trip into Wasps 22 was unsuccessful.
They eventually did touch down through Sam Dickinson, but it was too little, too late as Wasps headed back to the Ricoh, where they face Newcastle next weekend, with what could be a crucial victory come the end of the season.
Both sides went into the game just outside the top four, looking to push on and gain some momentum now the Champions Cup pool stages are over and done, but it was the visitors who started the better with Gopperth, who scored 19 points against his former club Leinster last weekend, opening the scoring from the tee after four minutes, 3-0.
Robson then scored the first try of the night on the minute to put the visitors further in front. The scrum-half picked up and darted through a gap to touch down against the posts before Gopperth converted to give Wasps a double-figure lead.
Try number two didn’t take long to come as Wasps intensity delivered once again with Miller crashing over. The fullback, following some terrific work from international veteran George Smith, carried powerfully to dive over the line and their Kiwi fly-half smashed over to make it three-from-three from the tee, 0-17.
Myler shot through a penalty for the hosts to get Saints on the scoreboard soon after,
However, Wasps were home for a third through Bassett after an excellent break from Miller opened up Saints defence. The fullback wriggled free and shot through a gap at pace before offloading to the wing who just gathered before strolling in for score unopposed.
Gopperth again converted what would be the final points of the first half, 3-24.
Wasps though made a nightmare start to the second half as Nathan Hughes was shown yellow just three minutes after the restart with Myler knocking over the resulting penalty to give Saints a strong start to the second-half, 6-24.
Despite applying pressure and a much more balanced display Saints couldn’t make the most of their possession and chances until they ran in a consolation score through Dickinson to complete the games scoring late on, 11-24
MAN OF THE MATCH
Wasps: Dan Robson
Northampton: 15 Harry Mallinder, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Tom Kessell, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2
Mike Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Matt Williams, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 James Craig, 20 Jamie Gibson, 21
Lee Dickson, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 James Wilson.
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 James Downey, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 George Smith (c,) 6 Alex Rieder, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 James Gaskell, 3 Jake Cooper Woolley, 2 Edd Shervington, 1 Simon McIntyre.
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 James Cannon, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Jamie
Stevenson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau.
Date: Friday 28 January
Venue: Franklin’s Gardens
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: Thomas Foley
Assistant Referees: Ashley Rowden & Simon McConnell
TMO: Stuart Terheege