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Match Report
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04 Apr 2004: Wasps v Northampton Saints

Please note that N and Q blocks are sold out in the Woodlands Stand and blocks G, F, D and C are sold out in the Main Stand..

Match Report
Wasps's Badge Wasps 31
Saints's Badge Northampton Saints 5
Fixture Type: Zurich Premiership Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sun 04 Apr 2004, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Tony Spreadbury

Wasps blow Saints away in stunning win

A stunning 31-5 victory over the Northampton Saints set London Wasps up in the perfect way for Sunday’s Heineken Cup quarter-final showdown with Gloucester. Wasps came into the game knowing a win would almost guarantee a play-off position, and in doing so, force Saints to fight it out with the rest of the chasing pack for that third position in the league.

This game saw the England internationals returning to club duty for the first time since the Six Nations and their input was immediately seen, especially with Joe Worsley. The England flanker, together with Simon Shaw, took the game by the scruff of the neck and laid the platform for Wasps’ stunning win.

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The first points of the game came from the boot of Mark Van Gisbergen as the fullback put his team in front with a penalty in the 14th minute. Wasps were very physical and dominated the initial part of the game and just before the half-hour mark, were rewarded with a try from Worsley. The move was started from Shaw who charged upfield to tear open the Saints defence. Trevor Leota took the ball on further and seconds later it was sent down the backline and into the hands of Worsley who crossed over for the five-pointer. Van Gisbergen added the conversion and Wasps were on their way with a 10-nil lead.

Saints, who initially chose to rest their England internationals in Steve Thompson, Robbie Morris and Matt Dawson, were battling to get into the game and when they did finally get some momentum, gave away penalties. Van Gisbergen added his second and third penalties before the half-time break and Wasps went in 16-nil up.

Wasps came out after the break looking to drive home the advantage and did so courtesy of a Will Green try. The big prop doesn’t score many tries but this was one was well-worked between Alex King and Green which saw him collect the ball from five metres and score under the posts in front of the standing terrace stand, where the majority of the away fans were. The conversion was added and Wasps looked in total control leading 23-0.

On 47 minutes, Wayne Smith needed to do something drastic and brought on his big guns in Thompson, Morris and Dawson and it paid off with a try. Dawson moved into the centre position and his break gave Nick Beal some space to run into and set up fullback, Bruce Reihana, with a try in the corner. Shane Drahm missed the conversion but the try gave the away supporters something to smile about.

That smile didn’t last long, though, as minutes later Van Gisbergen added his fourth penalty of the afternoon to stretch the now unassailable lead to 26-5. After the penalty Wasps made their first replacement with Tim Payne coming on for Green.

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Five minutes before the end, Wasps scored their third and final try from winger Tom Voyce. The speedster picked up a loose ball from some wayward passing from the Saints backline, which allowed him to run 30m for the try. The conversion was missed but at this stage Wasps were home and dry. The entire bench then came on after the try. Gatland’s side went hunting for the fourth and bonus-point try, but it failed to materialise as Wasps ran out comfortable 31-5. Shaw was named Man of the Match.

After the game Gatland said, “We had a good week in training and today they weren’t strong enough for us upfront. We came prepared. Northampton are a good side but they have struggled in big matches. This was a big game and they struggled. We still have another level in us and we are aware our whole season depended on this game and next week’s”.