George North crossed twice for Northampton Saints against London Wasps
10 May 2014, 05:19 pm ::
Northampton Saints 74 London Wasps 13
Northampton Saints set up a home Aviva Premiership play-off semi-final against Leicester Tigers after overcoming a sticky start to shoot down London Wasps 74-13 at Franklin's Gardens.
The Saints were 13-0 down inside the first 15 minutes after tries from Charlie Davies and Tom Varndell saw Dai Young's men fly in front.
But that only served to stun Northampton into action as scores from George North, Phil Dowson, Stephen Myler and Luther Burrell secured the try bonus point before the break.
That point secured the home semi-final for Saints, who could use the second half to continue boosting confidence ahead of the East Midlands shoot-out on Friday.
And that they did, adding a further seven tries through Ben Foden, Dickson (2), North, Ken Pisi, Tom Stephenson and Dowson.
It was all a far cry from the first 15 minutes, when Wasps had begun in cool and collected fashion, flying into the lead.
Dickson's attempted clearance was charged down by Davies, who grabbed the bouncing ball and dotted down in the corner.
Joe Carlisle's conversion was wide, but the visitors were unsettling their hosts early on, bossing the early territory.
And they soon extended their advantage as Carlisle lashed a penalty through the posts, with the home fans left shifting uncomfortably in their seats.
They were soon growing even more anxious as Foden's kick ahead was blocked and Varndell was presented with the chance to score, which he took.
Carlisle's conversion hit the left upright, but Wasps held a 13-0 lead with the Northampton fans desperately trying to rally their troops.
The players responded as North danced through three flailing defenders to find his way over the line, with Myler adding the extras.
The forwards then did their job, with an unstoppable lineout drive seeing Dowson touch down.
Myler missed the conversion but he soon added a try of his own to his team's tally as a brilliant burst from Foden released the fly-half for his first score of the season.
The conversion sent Northampton into a 19-13 lead and Wasps were cracking under the strain, having looked so confident early on.
Myler added another penalty to his team's tally after the home pack did the business at the scrum, before Wasps lost No.8 Nathan Hughes to the sin bin.
Northampton were determined to profit and after Foden's try was chalked off, Burrell latched on to a Mike Haywood pass to secure the try bonus point.
That secured the home semi-final for Northampton, who could head into the second half in a comfortable position that looked unlikely early on.
And things were to get even better for the home side after the break as, after the pack used a scrum to surge towards the line, Dickson picked up from the base to score.
Myler added the extras and Northampton were revelling in the occasion, with another boost coming in the shape of a first Saints appearance since October for Alex Corbisiero.
The England prop was immediately into the action helping to win a scrum against the head, with Dickson using the ball earned to hand Foden a try.
James Wilson added the extras, following the decision to replace Myler ahead of the semi-final, and Northampton were eyeing the 50-point mark.
They were soon there as Dickson was helped over the line before North grabbed his second and Pisi cashed in to etch his name on the ever-growing scoresheet, which boasted nine Northampton tries.
And it was to be 11 before the end as Stephenson latched on to a grubber kick and Dowson scored his second of the day to give Saints their record Aviva Premiership win and Wasps their worst ever league defeat.