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Last play heartbreak for Wasps

For the second year running, Wasps suffered the agony of a last-minute defeat against high-flying Northampton losing 15-17.

With the game in its dying seconds, the Men in Black and Gold appeared to have snatched a dramatic win, with Joe Carlisle’s 78th minute penalty putting them one point clear. But they were denied a memorable win, when Stephen Myler landed a pressure kick to snatch victory.

Wasps went ahead in the sixth minute, after Luther Burrell had been penalised for a late challenge on Andy Goode. With the Wasps flyhalf still on the ground receiving treatment, Elliot Daly stepped up to send the ball between the posts from 30 metres.

Burrell appeared to have made up for his transgression right from the restart. Wasps failed to gather the long kick, which bounced into his arms a few metres from the line. Despite Ashley Johnson’s attempted tackle he powered his way over, but the try was disallowed as one of the Wasps players had been pulled back off the ball.

After Charlie Davies kicked the ball dead, from a scrum just inside the Wasps half Saints won a penalty at the ensuing scrum. They went for the corner and a series of catch-and-drives yielded further penalties until they finally powered their way over, with Christian Day applying the finishing touch. Myler’s conversion attempt went narrowly wide.

Wasps responded well, when Will Helu rose high to gather another Davies kick, just inside the Saints’ 22. The visitors were penalised, but Elliot Daly’s kick went wide. A minute later, Charlie Davies’s angled kick found touch in the left corner. Mike Haywood took a short throw to the front of the lineout, but the throw was adjudged not straight, giving Wasps their best attacking position of the game. They were unable to take advantage as the ball squirted out of the scrum untidily and a Northampton boot sent the ball downfield.

A minute later, Wasps were penalised at a breakdown 30 metres out, and Myler had a straightforward kick to stretch the lead to 8-3, after 22 minutes. Within a minute, it was Saints’ turn to be penalised just outside their 22, 13 metres in from the left touchline. Goode resumed kicking duties and sent the ball sailing between the posts, to bring the score back to 8-6.

Nine minutes before halftime, the Wasps pack produced their own powerful drive from a lineout, 30 metres out. They came infield and into the 22, before Northampton were penalised. Goode landed a simple kick to give his side a 9-8 lead.

Saints reclaimed the lead, two minutes before the break, with Myler’s third penalty. In the final minute of the half, Andy Goode attempted a long-range drop at goal, but it fell well short leaving Saints two points ahead after the first 40 minutes.

Four minutes into the second half, Goode limped off, to be replaced by Joe Carlisle. Carlisle made an immediate impact, as he slid through a gap out on the left, after Tom Varndell had fielded a long kick. He made 30 metres, before returning the ball to the winger but Wasps were forced into touch, on the Saints 22. Good pressure at the lineout forced the visitors back over the line, giving Wasps another attacking scrum.

Sam Jones made a powerful drive for line. James Haskell and Matt Mullan then both went close, before the ball returned to Carlisle, who attempted a drop at goal, but he snatched at his kick which went his wide.

Wasps kept up the pressure, and a good run by Elliot Daly set up the position for Carlisle to send a cross-field kick to the right wing, where Tom Collins was unable to gather. Will Helu was following up well, but knocked on as he attempted to pick up the ball from his toes just outside the 22, with no defender in front of him.

Northampton then threatened, after a diving Elliot Daly failed to gather an awkward kick, a few metres from his line. Tom Varndell did well to tidy up possession, allowing Carlisle to clear. His kick failed to find touch, and Northampton mounted another attack. They appeared to be setting up an overlap on the left, but Mike Haywood knocked on a low pass, a few metres inside the Wasps 22.

From the scrum, Charlie Davies gathered untidy ball and made a few metres, before being penalised for not releasing. Stephen Myler landed the kick, from just outside the 22, and a few metres in from the left touchline, giving his side a 14-9 lead, as the game entered the final quarter.

Carlisle’s 65th minute penalty, from 35 metres, brought Wasps to within two points. From the restart, replacement Joe Simpson had a clearance charged down, but did well to regather, before making 20 metres upfield. Wasps moved back across to the right, but Guy Thompson, who’d just replaced James Haskell, was forced into touch on halfway.

With 11 minutes left, Northampton were penalised at a scrum just inside the Wasps half. Elliot Daly went for the posts, but his kick fell just short. Two minutes later, Saints’ captain Tom Wood was shown a yellow card for a heavy off-the-ball challenge on Joe Launchbury. Daly again went for the posts, this time from near the left touchline, a few metres inside the Wasps half. His kick had the distance, but not the accuracy.

With just three minutes left, Lee Dickson was penalised for a tip-tackle on Tom Palmer, just inside the Northampton 22. Joe Carlisle stepped up to take the kick and the crowd erupted in joy, as the ball went over to put Wasps ahead.

From the restart, Northampton knocked on, but Wasps were penalised at the scrum. Myler kept his nerve to land the kick from 40 metres in, and seven metres in from touch.

Wasps play their final game of 2013 at Newcastle Falcons, on Friday the 27th of December. They return to Adams Park on Sunday, the 5th of January 2014, when Exeter Chiefs are the visitors.

London Wasps Team: Elliot Daly, Will Helu, Chris Bell (capt), Charlie Hayter, Tom Varndell, Andy Goode, Charlie Davies, Matt Mullan, Carlo Festuccia, Jake Cooper-Woolley, Tom Palmer, Joe Launchbury, Ashley Johnson, James Haskell, Sam Jones.

Replacements: Tom Lindsay, Taoine Vea, Phil Swainston, JamesCannon, Guy Thompson, Joe Simpson, Joe Carlisle, Andy Suniula.

Northampton Saints Team: Ken Pisi, Jamie Elliott, George North, Luther Burrell, Tom Collins, Stephen Myler, Kahn Fotuali'i, Alex Waller, Mike Haywood, Salesi Ma’Afu, Samu Manoa, Christian Day, Calum Clark, Tom Wood (capt), Sam Dickinson.

Replacements: Dylan Hartley, Ethan Waller, Tom Mercey, Courtney Lawes, Phil Dowson, Lee Dickson, Glenn Dickson, Tom Stephenson.