All the points came from the boot of Danny Cipriani, who was only denied a fourth successful penalty when his mammoth kick from inside his own half struck the right post. The win was built on intense defence, which forced numerous handling errors and a dominant forward performance, with Man of the Match Zak Taulafo spearheading a powerful scrummaging display. On top of that Wasps discipline was superb and the visitors didn’t have a single kick at goal.
The result lifts Wasps into fourth place, level on points with London Irish, but ahead of them through having won two more games.
Wasps were gifted an early score in the first minute after Cipriani’s lofted kick-off was dropped, just inside the Saracens 22. Wasps then put in a powerful shove at the scrum, the visitors were penalised, and Cipriani landed a straightforward kick.
After several minutes of kicking, Wasps threatened, after Warren Fury burst through some weak tackles and sent Tom Varndell free down the left. The winger was stopped just outside the 22, the ball was worked infield, and Saracens conceded a penalty which was taken quickly with the ball spun out to Paul Sackey. He shook off two tackles, before being forced into touch and referee Chris White called play back to the penalty. Cipriani was again on target to make it 6-0 after 10 minutes.
After Derek Hougaard’s long-range drop at goal fell well short, and wide, Varndell made an incisive run deep into the Saracens 22. He cut inside and found Fury in support. He exchanged passes with the scrum-half, before being brought down just short of the line. Dan Ward-Smith then made a powerful charge before Wasps were penalised at the breakdown a few metres out.
Saracens were being pressured into a series of handling errors, in the face of some aggressive defence, but it was a Wasps knockon which spoilt a promising position after Serge Betsen had poached a poor Saracens lineout throw to release the backs down the left. Ben Jacobs did well to keep the ball alive, as he was forced towards touch but his inside pass went astray.
With 13 minutes of the half left, a mighty Wasps scrum sent Saracens 15 metres backwards. They conceded the inevitable penalty, just inside the Wasps half. Cipriani just missed out as the ball went narrowly beneath the bar – his first miss in nine kicks.
The fly half had another chance, four minutes later, when Saracens were penalised at the breakdown in a similar position. This time the fly half stuck the ball sweetly, but it hit the right-hand post and Saracens were able to clear. When the visitors conceded another penalty near halfway, Cipriani chose to go for touch. A long throw-in found Fury and the ball was moved out to the left where Taulafo powered his way towards the line. The ball popped out and was touched down by a defender but the scrum was awarded to Wasps. A series of penalties followed, all of which were taken as scrums, and eventually Richard Skuse was shown a yellow card as the Saracens front row was put under enormous pressure. At the following scrum the ball squirted out and Saracens gratefully found touch, just inside the 22.
Wasps continued to press and the last play of the half saw Rob Webber leading a drive into the 22, but an accidental offside ended a first 40 minutes in which Wasps had been much the better side.
The second half began with a glimpse of Cipriani at his best, as he ran the ball from near his own line, accelerated through a gap and found Varndell in support. The move took play up to the Saracens 22, before Wasps were forced into touch. Cipriani then came close after combining in midfield with Ward-Smith, before chipping towards the corner and narrowly losing the race for the touchdown.
A minute later, the fly half landing his third successful penalty following a Saracens offence at a lineout inside their 22. This seemed to spark the visitors, who began to show more urgency and ambition, and they put in their best spell of the game, pinning Wasps in their own territory. The pressure was lifted, when Hougaard put in a feeble drop at goal, from 35 metres, and Van Gisbergen put in a long clearance.
The first Wasps substitution brought Will Matthews on for Serge Betsen.
A moment of indecision by Varndell, after he field a long kick near his line gave Saracens an excellent attacking position. He had plenty of time, but let the ball roll towards the line, before picking it up and attempting to run his way out of trouble, but he was wrapped up in the tackle, and Saracens were given an attacking scrum, but another excellent shove by the Wasps pack won possession and Cipriani cleared to the 22.
Warren Fury then left the field, to be replaced by Mark Robinson. He was followed by Cipriani, with Dave Walder coming on, with 11 minutes left. Saracens continued to throw everything at Wasps, but could not find a hole in the fierce defence.
With six minutes left, Varndell was hit by a crunching tackle from Brad Barritt. After treatment, he left the field to bring David Lemi on. As the minutes ticked away, the Wasps tackling continued to force handling errors. In the final play of the game, Wasps won a lineout on halfway, the forwards controlled the ball and Dave Walder gleefully ran out of play, to huge cheers from the passionate home crowd.
Wasps visit Leeds Carnegie next weekend, before returning to Adams Park on March the 7th, to face Gloucester, in the Guinness Premiership.