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London Wasps lost their second game of the Zurich Premiership, when they were beaten 34-20 by the Northampton Saints.
After a good start to the season that saw Wasps lying second in the table standings, Warren Gatland's team were hoping for their second away win of the season and to secure their position near the top of the league. Unfortunately it was not to be, as 'The Men in Black' were soundly beaten. <1>
Wasps got off to the worst possible start when, after only three minutes, Saints fullback Oriol Ripol escaped the Wasps defence and laid off to winger Jon Sleightholme to score in the right-hand corner. Paul Grayson made no mistake with the conversion and Wasps found themselves 7-0 down after only a few minutes.
After 15 minutes Wasps were hit by injuries to key players, in particular to scrum half Rob Howley, lock Simon Shaw and Kiwi prop Craig Dowd. The big New Zealander was forced to the bench and was replaced by Darren Molloy.
However, Wasps did manage to keep the momentum going after the injury disruptions and attacked the Saints defence and were nearly rewarded when fullback Paul Sampson came close to scoring.
Wasps managed to get on the board with a penalty in the 16th minute by fly half Alex King, but once again fell further behind when Mark Connors scored to take Saints into a 12-3 lead. Grayson missed the conversion but a few minutes later slotted another penalty to stretch the lead and leave Wasps wondering what do in order to stem the Saints onslaught.
As the game heated up, tempers started to flare and this accounted for Steve Thompson and Darren Molloy getting involved in a fight, which forced referee Tony Spreadbury to send both players to the sin-bin on 38 minutes, reducing both teams to 14 men before the break.
King converted a second penalty to reduce the deficit to 15-6 at half-time, but both Saint's coach Wayne Smith and Wasps' coach Warren Gatland were not happy as the pair escorted referee Spreadbury off the field, quizzing him while the Franklin's Gardens crowd voiced their disapproval.
In the second half, two penalties from fly half Paul Grayson put Wasps further behind. As the game progressed the Wasps travelling fans were rewarded with a try when Howley pounced on a ball at the back of a ruck to quickly release to the backline. The ball went to Josh Lewsey who dodged the defensive lines and scored. King converted and the gap narrowed slightly.
The tension in the Wasps camp continued to mount with Wasps losing a second man to the sin-bin, after referee Spreadbury showed centre Mark Denney a yellow card after he was accused on fouling Ripol.
Northampton were awarded a penalty which Grayson easily converted before adding another three points on 69 minutes.
Forward Steve Williams then added the final nail in the Wasps coffin with a try in the 74th minute and this put the game out of reach for Wasps.
Scottish international Kenny Logan did manage to grab a consolation try for Wasps, which King converted, but the game was already lost.
Warren Gatland said afterwards 'We were well beaten in the forwards today and we were up against a side that probably wanted it a bit more'. <2>
Wasp will return to training this week and refocus on the key areas that let the side down this weekend before travelling on Friday to Parma for the first round of the Parker Pen Cup
Try 2 Mins Sleightholme
Con 2 Mins Grayson
Try 19 Mins Connors
Pen 23 Mins Grayson
Pen 43 Mins Grayson
Pen 45 Mins Grayson
Pen 57 Mins Grayson
Pen 67 Mins Grayson
Try 74 Mins Williams
Con 74 Mins Grayson
Pen 16 Mins King
Pen 40 Mins King
Try 54 Mins Lewsey
Con 54 Mins King
Try 81 Mins Logan
Con 81 Mins King