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Having failed on the last two attempts to come back from Franklin’s Gardens with a win, Wasps were hoping to make it third time lucky on Saturday and come away with the spoils. Unfortunately, it was not to be as Wasps were beaten 27-17.
Injuries to Richard Birkett, Phil Greening and Will Green meant Wasps went to Northampton missing their experience. However the side was confident in their replacements, knowing the youngsters of Martin Purdy, Jonny Barrett and, new signing, Tim Payne would bring added pace and raw talent to the side.
Wasps started well and were 10-nil up after only five minutes. A penalty from flyhalf Mark Van Gisbergen was followed by a try from flanker Jonny O’Connor. The Irishman’s try came from fantastic work from centre, Ayoola Erinle. After Erinle’s sudden break caught the Saints defence off-guard, O’Connor found himself receiving a perfect pass and scoring his first try in Wasps colours. Van Gisbergen added the conversion and Wasps led 10-nil.
Saints needed an answer to this early Black and Gold onslaught and it came from the boot of Shane Drahm. The flyhalf slotted penalties in the 14th and 18th minutes to bring the home side back into the game. Then with 26 minutes gone, Drahm set up Saints’ first try of the match with a looping cross kick that found Bruce Reihana. The winger gathered the ball, cut back inside and scored the try. Drahm added the conversion to make it 13-10 and Saints took the lead for the first time in the game.
After 31 minutes Saints were awarded another penalty and Drahm stretched the lead to 16-10.
Towards the close of the first half, Wasps came back into the game and one again Erinle caused havoc for the Saints defence. Tom Voyce came close to scoring in the corner but some solid defending kept him out. Warren Gatland made his first replacement before the break with Jonny Barrett coming on for Trevor Leota. The first half finished 16-10, with Saints in the lead.
Drahm had the chance to extend their lead early in the second half, however, he missed a penalty attempt and soon afterwards Wasps capitalised through Peter Richards. The scrumhalf, who scored his third try for Wasps since joining, went over after some good work from Van Gisbergen and Erinle. The conversion was added to make it 16-17 and Wasps led for the second time in the match.
That lead was short lived after Barrett was yellow carded for a professional foul on Drahm. The replacement hooker was told he deliberately killed the ball after tackling Drahm and was given 10 minutes in the sin bin. Drahm added the three points but and made it 19-17.
Ten minutes to go and it was still anyone’s game. Both sides came close to scoring tries but they came to no avail. Unfortunately, Saints were awarded another penalty and Drahm made it 22-17, with time running out for Wasps.
Mark Denney came on for Erinle who went off with cramp but the centre had had an outstanding game. <2>
Wasps had a late opportunity to score but after losing the ball from their own lineout, it was game over as the ball was kicked deep out of the Saints half. Wasps tried to run the ball from their own half but were caught off-guard as John Clarke scored an intercept try which secured the win for the home side. Drahm missed the conversion.
Wasps were awarded a penalty with the last move of the game. Unfortunately, Van Gisbergen missed the chance to secure a bonus point as Saints ran out 27-17 winners.