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Wasps had trailed 10-0, early in the second half, but fought back strongly, and came close to snatching a draw, with a desperate late assault.
Wasps were forced to make three late changes to their squad. Will Matthews failed a fitness test on his shoulder, and was replaced on the bench by Sam Jones. Illness forced Riki Flutey to withdraw, with his place among the replacements taken by Seb Jewell. Joe Ward struggled with a calf complaint that forced him out of the warm up and Tom Lindsay came into the starting lineup, with Jason Hobson joining the replacements.
Saracens missed an early chance to go ahead, when Owen Farrell mishit a 40-metre penalty, inside two minutes.
Wasps put together their first serious attack after seven minutes, when Joe Simpson took a quick penalty, out near the left touchline, a few metres inside the Sarries half. He came infield and the ball was moved out wide to the right. They then controlled possession through several phases, before a promising position was lost, through a penalty at the breakdown, inside the home 22.
The kick took play deep into Wasps territory and it was the Saracens turn to work their way through several phases, before Farrell sent a drop at goal well wide of the posts.
Play was then stopped for several minutes, after a clash of heads between Joe Worsley and Chris Wyles on halfway. The Saracens fullback, clearly still groggy, was eventually led from the field, to be replaced by Alex Goode.
Wasps then produced a superb flowing move which almost brought them the opening score. After Tom Varndell fielded a long kick, Mark Van Gisbergen decided to counterattack. The ball was quickly worked out left and Varndell went racing away. With only Goode in front of him, he tried to come inside, but was stopped just short. The ball was quickly moved back infield, but Simon Shaw was unable to hang on to a sharp pass, deep inside the 22. A minute later, Saracens were penalised a few metres inside their own half, but Dave Walder mishit his kick sending it to the left of the posts.
Wasps were looking the more dangerous side, but Saracens were putting pressure on their lineout. They stole two Wasps throws, before a third was adjudged not straight. Wasps did win their own ball, after Walder’s long penalty to the corner, but a knock on at the breakdown stopped the attack in its tracks ten metres out.
It was against the run of play when Saracens went ahead, four minutes before the break, through a simple Farrell penalty after Wasps strayed offside, just in front of their posts. Two minutes later, a high tackle gave the fly half another kick at goal, from just over 40 metres, but he sent the ball wide and halftime came with the home side narrowly ahead.
Saracens stretched their lead, five minutes after the break, when replacement Andy Saull went over near the posts. Farrell made no mistake with the easy conversion, to put his side ten points clear. Farrell then tried a drop at goal, from nearly 40 metres, but Ben Broster charged his kick down. Wasps then made their first substitution, with Tim Payne coming on for Zak Taulafo.
Wasps then came desperately close to conceding a soft try, when they tried to move the ball from near their own line. Gavin Henson, who’d come on as a replacement, intercepted an ambitious flick, but a strong and committed tackle from Joe Simpson held him up on the try line.
With play at the other end of the field, Simpson then showed his attacking skills with a darting run which led to a penalty just outside the Sarries 22, and Walder was on target making it 10-3, with 24 minutes still to play. Two minutes later, the gap was down to four points, when the fly half landed a fine kick from the ten-metre line, sending it in off the left post.
Sarries came straight back, after a poor clearance by Joe Simpson gave Schalk Brits the chance to launch a blistering run which took play deep into the 22. Wasps conceded a penalty, and Farrell had another easy kick, which gave his side a 13-6 lead as the game entered the final quarter.
Nic Berry replaced Simpson, with around 15 minutes left. After a Walder penalty found touch at the corner, Sarries stole a crucial lineout. Minutes later, another penalty took play into the 22. This time, Wasps won untidy ball, but a knock-on meant they were unable to make anything of it.
As the minutes ticked away, Wasps were moving the ball at every opportunity. Another Walder penalty put them back into the Sarries 22, but the lineout was lost. With three minutes left, a sustained buildup almost broke the defence, but a crucial turnover was conceded. A minute later, another prolonged attack came to nothing, as Wasps were penalised inside the 22. Inside the final minute, Farrell’s penalty took play back into the Wasps half, Sarries won the lineout and kicked the ball dead, to clinch a valuable victory, leaving Wasps with the consolation of a losing bonus point.
Wasps are back on home territory next Sunday, when they face Newcastle Falcon in the Aviva Premiership at Adams Park.