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Saracens had an early chance to take the lead, after Wasps were penalised at a scrum on halfway, but Derick Hougaard’s kick bounced back off the post and Wasps were able to clear. Two minutes later he landed a drop goal, after Joe Simpson had been unable to gather a swirling, hoisted kick deep inside his 22.
Wasps responded well and a charged down Hougaard clearance, inside the in-goal area, set up an attacking lineout. John Hart nearly skidded over near the posts, before Saracens were penalised and Dave Walder levelled the score with a simple penalty.
Another long kick downfield caused Wasps problems as Paul Sackey was caught by the chasers, near his posts. Wasps managed to recycle well and Walder gathered a tricky pass from his toes to clear well. The resultant lineout led to the first try of the game, as Sarries secured possession and gradually worked their way downfield. Once they were inside the Wasps 22, hooker Schalk Brits exploded out of the maul to charge over the line. Hougaard landed the conversion to make it 10-3 after 12 minutes.
Mark Van Gisbergen, in his 200th game for Wasps, then set up a good attacking position. He leapt high to gather another hoisted kick inside his 22, before feeding Dave Walder. The fly half sent a long kick downfield, which Brits could not gather and Wasps were awarded a penaltyin front of the posts. Walder was again on target, to narrow the gap to four points, with 21 minutes played.
Saracens restored their seven point advantage three minutes later, when Wasps were penalised at a scrum just outside the 22 and Hougaard’s penalty, from in front of the posts, made it 13-6.
On the half hour aWasps substitution saw Bob Baker replace Ben Broster in the front row. Wasps then put together a series of phases, before a well-placed Walder kick rolled into touch near the corner, but Sarries won their lineout and a long clearance relieved the pressure.
Wasps then worked a short lineout well, with George Skivington combining well with Joe Ward. They made 20 metres down the left, before the ball was moved back across the field, and the backs produced some good handling skills before the position was lost to another penalty.
Saracens almost stretched their lead, when Hougaard’s 35-metre drop at goal was just wide. Within seconds, Van Gisbergen lost control of the ball, having safely gathered a high kick. The following Sarries forwards powered their way over the line, but desperate defence held them up. A series of scrums followed before Wasps, under severe pressure, forced a crucial turnover. With time up for the half Wasps lost control of a scrum on their own put-in and Saracens were awarded another penalty but Hougaard’s kick went wide and the score stayed at 13-6.
The first 40 minutes had been dominated by kicking, but Wasps had showed a few glimpses of enterprise, and had withstood several minutes of intense pressure at the end of the half to keep themselves in the game.
Wasps started the half strongly and a long clearance by Van Gisbergen found touch on the Sarries 22. Sarries won their lineout but Wasps stole a turnover to set up a controlled attack, but a good burst by Gabriel Bocca, was then lost as Serge Betsen failed to release the ball and a penalty was again conceded.
A long-range Walder penalty, from just inside his own half, was narrowly off target before Rob Webber, returning from injury, and Charlie Beech replaced Joe Ward and Gabriel Bocca. Within a minute of their arrival, Wasps were penalised at a lineout on halfway and Hougaard’s kick at goal dropped just short. The fly half then gathered the clearance to attempt a long-range drop goal, but he was again short of the target. A minute later he had another chance to stretch the lead, when Wasps were again penalised at the scrum, but Hougaard’s kick was well wide of the posts.
Moments later, the fly half was on target with another drop at goal, this time from 30 metres to put his side 10 points clear as the game neared its final quarter.
Lachlan Mitchell was the next Wasps replacement, when he came on for Van Gisbergen, with 19 minutes remaining. Saracens were immediately awarded another penalty, when Wasps committed an offence at the maul, just outside their 22 and Hougaard’s successful kick strengthened his side’s hold on the game. Marty Veale replaced George Skivington, with 13 minutes left to play, but his first scrum saw Saracens awarded another penalty, which Hougaard slotted comfortably to put his side virtually out of sight.
Steve Kefu took the place of Dominic Waldouck and Dan Leo came on for John Hart, as Wasps put in a late attempt to salvage something from the game. Joe Simpson thought he’d claimed a try, when he took a quick penalty and darted over, but he was called back by the referee. When the kick was retaken and sent into touch at the corner, Dan Leo made a charge for the lines but Wasps were penalised for crossing.
Warren Fury’s entry, in place of Simpson, meant Wasps had used all their replacements as the game went into added time. Another desperate attack, following a Saracens knockon near the line ended in frustration, when Wasps were called for accidental offside.
Walder’s fine penalty to the corner set up one last chance for Wasps to score, but the ball was dropped near the line and the whistle blew on a frustrating afternoon.
Wasps have another Premiership game on Friday evening, when they visit Sale Sharks. Their next home game is on Sunday, December the 6th, when they entertain Leicester Tigers, at Adams Park.