22nd Oct, 2021

RUGBY UNION - Wasps 26-20 Northampton Saints

Aaron Sutcliffe 10th Oct, 2021 Updated: 10th Oct, 2021

WASPS ended Northampton Saints unbeaten start to the Gallagher Premiership season thanks to tries in either half from Zach Kibirige and Dan Robson in a tight affair at the Coventry Building Society Arena.

 

Northampton went ahead through Sam Matavesi’s try on 12 minutes only for Wasps to hit back five minutes later when Kibirige went over in the corner.

 

Dan Biggar and Jacob Umaga traded penalties to send the teams into the break level before Umaga’s penalty and Robson’s effort from close range on 58 minutes put Wasps ahead.

 

Saints responded through Lewis Ludlam’s try when the hosts were temporarily reduced to 14-men only for Jimmy Gopperth to kick two penalties to put Wasps out of reach.

 

James Fish scored from a driving lineout with the last play of the game to earn his side a losing bonus point, but it was too little too late for Saints as Wasps secured a second straight win at the CBS Arena.

 

Victory for Lee Blackett’s side means they move up to fifth place in the Premiership table with a game in-hand on all of the teams above them bar reigning champions Harlequins.

 

Wasps were forced into a late change prior to kick-off with Francois Hougaard dropping out of the squad and Will Porter coming onto the bench.

 

Their opponents also made a late switch with Mikey Haywood replaced by Fish on the Saints interchange bench.

 

And it was the visitors who made the first break of the game when Matt Proctor burst through a couple of tackles before excellent work from Thomas Young at the breakdown won the hosts a penalty.

 

That was followed by some frantic end-to-end rugby which started with a Vaea Fifita intercept before his offload handed possession back to Saints only for Ollie Sleightholme’s grubber to go over the sideline.

 

Saints threatened the Wasps line again shortly after with Kibirige making a crucial intercept inside his own 22 to prevent Northampton from breaking the deadlock.

 

Wasps were unable to hold out on 12 minutes when Matavesi touched down from Juarno Augustus’s sublime offload out the back of his hand with Biggar converting.

 

The home side responded with a try of their own on 17 minutes when Gabriel Oghre threw a superb dummy before passing to Robson who drew in the Saints defence which allowed Kibirige to score in the right corner with Umaga converting from the touchline.

 

Wasps almost broke through again with their next attack after a superb run from Elliott Stooke before his offload found Fifita who in-turn found Young who was denied a try by an incredible recovery tackle from Augustus.

 

A soft penalty then afforded Biggar the chance to kick Saints back into the lead which he duly took to edge Northampton into a three-point lead.

 

Blackett’s side then won a penalty of their own from a scrum with Umaga keeping his composure to slot the ball between the posts from distance and bring the game level.

 

That score sent the teams into the break level after Umaga sent his penalty wide of the target in the final minute of the half.

 

Wasps were denied a second try on 42 minutes by the TMO after Oghre’s pass to Fifita was deemed to travel forwards following a lovely combination between the pair at the front of the lineout.

 

Blackett’s man almost found a way through moments later when Marcus Watson put Josh Bassett in down the left only to be halted five metres from the line.

 

Wasps pressure finally told on 50 minutes when they won another penalty from a scrum with Umaga easily kicking between the posts to put them ahead for the first time in the match.

 

However, he was unable to add a further three points from a central area just inside the Saints half as his effort drifted to the left of the posts.

 

The home side extended their lead further on 58 minutes when Young collected the ball at the base of a ruck before offloading to Robson who dotted down from close range with Umaga successfully adding the extras.

 

Following a lengthy review by the TMO, Oghre was sent to the sin-bin after his swinging right arm made contact with Alex Mitchell’s head.

 

Northampton made their advantage count on 62 minutes through Ludlam’s try after driving over the line from a five-metre lineout although Biggar was wayward with his conversion attempt.

 

Saints were then penalised just inside their own half with Umaga again missing the target from range before Wasps won another penalty that was superbly kicked through the posts by Gopperth from 45 metres on the angle.

 

Gopperth kept his cool again minutes later to kick another penalty from the other side of the pitch to stretch Wasps lead to 11 points heading into the final 10 minutes.

 

However, Gopperth could not repeat the trick in the final few minutes as he slipped when taking aim at the sticks from just inside the Saints half around five-metres in from right touchline.

 

Saints scored with the final play of the match when Fish went over from another drive at the lineout with Rory Hutchinson missing the conversion as Wasps bounced back from their defeat to Newcastle Falcons in style.

 

Next up for Wasps is a home match with Exeter Chiefs at the CBS Arena on Saturday, October 16.

 

Wasps Tries: Kibirige (17’), Robson (58’)

Wasps Conversions: Umaga (18’, 58’)

Wasps Penalties: Umaga (32’, 50’), Gopperth (68’, 71’)

 

Saints Tries: Matavesi (12’), Ludlam (62’), Fish (80’)

Saints Conversions: Biggar (13’)

Saints Penalties: Biggar (26’)

 

Wasps XV: 15. Watson, 14. Kibirige, 13. Spink, 12. Le Bourgeois, 11. Bassett, 10. Umaga, 9. Robson, 1. Harris, 2. Cruse, 3. Scholtz, 4. Fifita, 5. Stooke, 6. Shields (C), 7. Young, 8. Willis.

Interchanges: 16. Oghre, 17. Hislop, 18. Toomaga-Allen, 19. Gaskell, 20. Carr, 21. Porter, 22. Gopperth, 23. Crossdale.

 

Saints XV: 15. Furbank, 14. Freeman, 13. Proctor, 12. Dingwall, 11. Sleightholme, 10. Biggar, 9. Mitchell, 1. Auterac, 2. Matavesi, 3. Hill, 4. Ribbans, 5. Ratuniyarawa, 6. Lawes, 7. Ludlam (C), 8. Augustus.

Interchanges: 16. Fish, 17. Waller, 18. Painter, 19. Coles, 20. Harrison, 21. Lomani, 22. Hutchinson, 23. Moon.

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