Wasps director of rugby Dai Young is confident Christian Wade is on course for an England recall after the winger inspired the hosts to a clinical bonus-point victory over Sale Sharks at the Ricoh Arena.
Although the 23-year-old flyer did not get on the scoresheet himself, he showed dazzling footwork and pace to regularly cut through the Sale defence and help Wasps touch down five times in a 41-16 triumph.
Joe Simpson was the main benefactor with two tries as Wasps’ back row of Ashley Johnson, James Haskell and Nathan Hughes all scored one apiece.
And with Wasps now up into the final play-off spot in the table after three straight Aviva Premiership Rugby victories, Young is adamant his side can sustain their impressive form at their new stadium.
“It’s not for me to say who should and shouldn’t be selected, but I wouldn’t swap Christian for anyone,” said Young.
“He is by far one of the most exciting wingers with ball in hand and he’s as good a finisher as anyone, but he doesn’t always get the credit he deserves for creating opportunities. He was outstanding for us.
“The crowd were excellent, so we need to give performances that they want to keep coming back to – we want to turn this place into a real fortress.”
Wasps’ bonus-point victory took them ahead of Leicester Tigers, despite Richard Cockerill’s side gaining revenge for their heavy defeat to Bath Rugby at the Rec earlier this season with a 17-8 win at Welford Road.
Tom Youngs’ early try gave the Tigers an ideal start as fly-half Owen Williams kept his nerve to land four vital penalties to hold off a resurgent Bath after the break, with Ross Batty scoring for the visitors late on.
And while director of rugby Cockerill insists his side were not driven by thoughts of that 45-0 defeat in round three, he is confident the result proves Leicester can beat anyone in Aviva Premiership Rugby.
"It was a big game for us, and I thought we played very well against a good side,” he said. “In isolation, it's a massive win for us – a great building block.
"We didn't talk about the 45-0 defeat – I didn't really want to revisit it too much because every time you watched it they looked so good. We focused on ourselves and what we can do well.
"It proves we can beat the sides that have been on really good form. It puts us right back in the mix."
Harlequins director of rugby Conor O’Shea is also adamant his side can close the gap on their fellow play-off chasers after they saw off London Welsh 24-13 in a hard-fought win at the Kassam Stadium.
The Exiles led 10-5 approaching half time, only for centre Matt Hopper to set up Marland Yarde for a converted score that put the visitors 12-10 ahead at the interval.
Quins then surged away from the hosts as tries from Kyle Sinckler and Tom Williams secured the bonus point following Yarde and Karl Dickson’s earlier efforts, with O’Shea turning his thoughts to next weekend’s encounter with Leicester.
“We tried to play with ambition throughout the game and that's the way I want Quins to play even though it may not work at times,” he said.
“We got a bonus-point win so we are satisfied but we were inaccurate and very scratchy and probably played with too much width in the wrong areas of the field.
“We just need to move on now. Six days and then it’s Leicester Tigers. We know that’s the game that can get us firmly back in the race for the top four.”
On Saturday, Gloucester Rugby got the better of their West Country rivals Exeter Chiefs with a gripping 26-25 victory at Sandy Park, which saw all five tries scored after the interval.
The visitors took just a 6-0 lead into the break, before the contest burst into life with tries in quick succession from Exeter wingers Jack Nowell and Matt Jess and Tom Savage replying for the Cherry & Whites.
Ben Morgan and Thomas Waldrom exchanged scores but the boot of Greig Laidlaw proved the difference as he scored 11 points, with Billy Twelvetrees also landing a drop goal to get Gloucester back to winning ways.
A try in either half from David Strettle and 12 points from the boot of Owen Farrell proved enough for Saracens to secure a comfortable 22-6 victory over London Irish at Allianz Park.
The hosts led 11-0 at the break thanks to Strettle’s first effort and two Farrell penalties and despite Tom Homer landing two penalties of his own, Strettle’s second and Farrell’s accuracy off the tie killed off any chance of an Exiles comeback.
And on Friday night, current Aviva Premiership Rugby leaders Northampton Saints held off an inspired Newcastle Falcons to secure a thrilling 39-31 bonus-point victory at Frankin’s Gardens.
Fly-half Stephen Myler broke the 2,000-point barrier for the hosts, grabbing the first try before scores from George Pisi and Calum Clark and a penalty try gave the Saints 32-10 lead on the hour.
Although Falcons roared back into contention with tries from George McGuigan, Alex Tait and Richard Mayhew, the Saints ultimately prevailed thanks to Luther Burrell crossing over for their fifth try.
London Welsh 13 Harlequins 24
Penalties: Robinson 2
Tries: Dickson, Yarde, Sinckler, Williams
Conversions: Swiel 2
Referee: JP Doyle
Leicester Tigers 17 Bath Rugby 8
Tries: T Youngs
Penalties: Williams 4
Referee: Matthew Carley
Wasps 41 Sale Sharks 16
Tries: Haskell, Hughes, Simpson 2, Johnson
Conversions: Goode 5
Drop goal: Goode
Penalties: Ford 3
Referee: Greg Garner
Exeter Chiefs 25 Gloucester Rugby 26
Tries: Nowell, Jess, Waldrom
Conversions: Steenson 2
Penalties: Steenson 2
Tries: Savage, Morgan
Conversions: Laidlaw 2
Penalties: Laidlaw 3
Drop goal: Twelvetrees
Referee: Andrew Small
Saracens 22 London Irish 6
Tries: Strettle 2
Penalties: Farrell 4
Penalties: Homer 2
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Northampton Saints 39 Newcastle Falcons 31
Tries: Myler, G.Pisi, Clark, penalty, Burrell
Conversions: Myler 3
Penalties: Myler 2
Tries: Harris, McGuigan, Tait, Mayhew
Conversions: Catterick 4
Referee: Ian Tempest
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