Wasps edged to a 26-6 win against Northampton at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday
Rob Miller’s try combined with five points from Jimmy Gopperth put the hosts 10-3 ahead at the break
Further scores for the hosts from Miller and Jamie Stevenson secured the triumph
BY STEVEN SMITH
Wasps kept their hopes of a top-two finish alive after edging to a narrow win against Harlequins in a relentless battle on Sunday afternoon.
Dai Young’s men, who came into the match unbeaten at the Ricoh Arena in any tournament in 2016, are now just two points behind second-place Exeter as they kept the ball rolling on making their relatively new Coventry home a fortress following commanding victory’s against Toulon and Leinster earlier in the season.
On a glorious afternoon, in front of a bumper crowd of 17,422, the scoreboard looked bleak after the first quarter with the sides locked level at three points apiece after Stephen Myler and Jimmy Gopperth traded penalties.
But the game burst into life after 23 minutes when fullback Rob Miller, who had a try ruled out by the TMO early on, finished off a stunning Wasps break from their own 22. Veteran George Smith initially galloped clear before finding Thomas Young, who offloaded to Miller in support for the touchdown between the sticks. Gopperth converted the simple kick and the hosts were 10-3 ahead.
Saints responded with expansive rugby of their own but despite their extensive territory, they lacked penetration and could not get beyond the home sides abrasive defence, which meant Wasps maintained their a seven-point advantage heading into half-time.
A monster of a kick from England centre Elliot Daly soon after the restart edged Wasps further ahead but Myler responded almost immediately to once again cut the lead to seven points, 13-6.
But Miller just about secured the win with 13 minutes to go when he completed his brace. Great interplay between Craig Hampson and Smith freed up space for the fullback, who was able to squirm his way over despite two attempted tackles. Gopperth again converted and Wasps were out of sight.
Daly then slotted another long distance penalty from inside his own half before replacement scrum-half Jamie Stevenson bundles over from close range for his first Wasps try to complete the scoring, 28-6.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Wasps: Rob Miller
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Craig Hampson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 George Smith, 6 Thomas Young, 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan (c)
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 James Haskell, 21 Jamie Stevenson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Tom Wood (c), 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Campese Ma’afu, 18 Paul Hill, 19 James Craig, 20 Jon Fisher, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Tom Collins
Date: Sunday, April 3
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson, Robin Goodliffe
TMO: Geoff Warren