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Match Report

24 Mar 2012: Wasps v Northampton Saints

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Match Report
Saints's Badge Northampton Saints 32
Wasps's Badge Wasps 15
Fixture Type: Aviva Premiership Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Match Date: Sat 24 Mar 2012, Kick Off: 17:45
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth Assistant Referee: Nigel Carrick
TV Match Official: David Matthews Assistant Referee: Paul Burton

Saints too strong for battling Wasps

A strong start wasn't enough for Wasps who went down 32-15 to a strong Northampton Saints side at Frankin's Gardens.

With three tries in the first half, the home side were comfortably ahead at the break, but dogged Wasps defence denied them the bonus point try until the last five minutes of a second half they completely dominated.

Wasps were forced into a late change to their squad, when Ryan Davis was injured in the warm-up. His place on the bench was taken by Tom Prydie.

Wasps thought they had made a dream start after just four minutes, when Elliot Daly’s pass found Hugo Southwell coming into the line on a superb angle, just outside the Northampton 22. He seemed certain to score, but the referee ruled that the pass had gone forward. Wasps showed plenty of enterprise and ambition in the early stages, moving the ball at every opportunity, with kicks by Southwell and Nick Robinson setting up positions deep in home territory

After ten minutes, their efforts were rewarded, when they won a penalty at a scrum on the Saints 22, 15 metres in from the right touchline. Robinson made no mistake with the kick, to give Wasps a deserved lead.

That lead should have lasted less than a minute, as Wasps were penalised for a body check, right from the restart, 30 metres out, just to the right of the posts. To the astonishment of the crowd, Ryan Lamb sent his easy kick wide. A minute later, the Wasps pack won another penalty at a scrum, on halfway. Robinson went for the posts, but his kick fell well short. The injury jinx then struck again. Dom Waldouck went for a chargedown, and stayed on the ground.

While he was being treated, Northampton broke away and made the most of their numerical superiority, as George Pisi’s kick ahead bounced perfectly for Ben Foden, who went over for a try, which Lamb converted. To rub salt into the Wasps wound, Waldouck then limped off, in obvious pain. He was replaced by Paul Emerick

Wasps soon pulled back three points, with a 35-metre Robinson penalty, to make the score 7-6, after 21 minutes. Three minutes later, they won another scrum penalty 15 metres in from the left touchline. Robinson was again on target, from 35 metres, to regain the lead.

Northampton responded immediately, with a simple try from a scrum just outside the Wasps 22. Lee Dickson moved to the right and fed James Downey, whose angle of run split the Wasps defence open and he went over near the posts, without having a finger laid on him. Lamb missed the easy conversion, to make the score 12-9 to the home side, after half an hour.

Northampton then stepped up a gear, and began to display some sevens-style passing. They seemed certain to score, as Wasps had three players down injured. That passage of play ended with a penalty to the home side, 30 metres out, and in front of the posts. Lamb was on target, to make the score 15-9, and one of the injured Wasps players, Jonathan Poff went off with a blood injury, to be replaced by John Hart, making a welcome return from injury, after a 12-week layoff.

Wasps immediately went further behind, when an attempted counterattack broke down, inside their own half. Northampton snapped up the loose ball, and broke away down the right, to send Ben Foden over for his second try of the night, converted by Lamb, to make it 22-9, three minutes before halftime – a 15-points turnaround in just 12 minutes, helped by weak tackling. There was no further score before the break, but things were now looking ominous for Wasps, who had looked competitive for the first 25 minutes, before things started to go wrong.

Jonathan Poff returned to the field at the start of the second half, but only stayed on for just over a minute, as he was forced off with another blood injury, which brought John Hart back on. Wasps began the half encouragingly, with an excellent run by Hugo Southwell, followed by a long kick downfield, setting up a position inside the home 22. Four minutes after the restart, following some excellent passing by the backs, Robinson’s fourth penalty, from 30 metres, made the score 22-12.

Southwell, who had just required treatment, following a worrying looking fall, then did well to gather a chargedown, deep inside his 22, to clear downfield, and relieve another dangerous situation.

With a bonus point in sight, and their pack asserting itself Northampton began to apply the pressure. After an ominously powerful scrum yielded a kickable penalty, they showed their intentions by kicking to the corner.

An audacious blind side breakaway by Nic Berry, from a lineout near the Wasps line, appeared to have set up a scoring chance for Wasps, but Jack Wallace could not hold his inside pass, near halfway. As it was, the assistant referee called play back, following a skirmish between Ben Broster and Saints hooker Andy Long, and both men were shown yellow cards. Lamb missed the resultant penalty, from a few metres in from the right touchline.

Two minutes later, with Northampton pressing strongly, another Wasps offence at the breakdown gave Lamb a much simpler kick, and he duly stretched the lead to 25-12, fifteen minutes into the second half. Tom Lindsay was then replaced by Vladislav Korshunov. At the next scrum, Joe Launchbury left the field, making way for Simon McIntyre, in the enforced absence of Ben Broster.

A fine run by Paul Emmerick then set up Wasps’ best attack of the half. He combined with Jack Wallace and Hugo Southwell, to take play into the Northampton 22. The home side were penalisedd at the breakdown, and Robinson landed his fifth penalty, to bring the score to 25-15, as the game entered its final quarter.

Broster and Launchbury then returned to the fray, as the prop’s time in the sin bin ended. Another change saw Zak Taulafo replace Tim Payne, with 16 minutes left.

It was now all Northampton, with the Wasps defence being stretched to the limit. With seven minutes left, Hugo Southwell limped off, and Tom Prydie took his place. Wasps then received their second yellow card, when Nick Robinson was sent to the bin for timewasting. Northampton immediately secured their bonus point, when replacement scrumhalf Martin Roberts went over from a scrum near the posts. Stephen Myler converted, to make the score 32-15, with four minutes to go, and that was how it stayed until the final whistle.

Next weekend, Wasps return to Adams Park to take on Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership.

Wasps team: 15. Hugo Southwell (c) 14. Jack Wallace 13. Elliot Daly 12. Dom Waldouck 11. Richard Haughton 10. Nick Robinson 9. Nic Berry 1. Tim Payne 2. Tom Lindsay 3. Ben Broster 4. James Cannon 5. Richard Birkett 6. Joe Launchbury 7. Jonathan Poff 8. Sam Jones

Replacements: 16. Vladislav Korshunov 17. Sakaria Taulafo 18. Simon McIntyre 19. Ed O’Donoghue 20. John Hart 21. Charlie Davies 22. Tom Prydie 23. Paul Emerick

Northampton: 15 Ben FODEN 14 Chris ASHTON 13 George PISI 12 James DOWNEY 11 Paul DIGGIN 10 Ryan LAMB 9 Lee DICKSON (capt) 1 Soane TONGA’UIHA 2 Andy LONG 3 Brian MUJATI 4 James CRAIG 5 Christian DAY 6 Phil DOWSON 7 Tom WOOD 8 Roger WILSON

Replacements: 16 Ross MCMILLAN 17 Alex WALLER 18 Paul DORAN JONES 19 Mark SORENSON 20 Teimana HARR