Wasps’ accuracy in the first half of their stunning 24-11 win away to Northampton Saints was decisive according to director of rugby Dai Young after the game.
The Coventry-based side won for the first time since 2005 away at Franklin’s Gardens, scoring three tries through Dan Robson, Rob Miller and Josh Bassett.
Leading 24-3 at the break, they couldn’t kick on in the second half, but that didn’t bother Young, after seeing his team back up last week’s hammering of Leinster with this win that helps them leapfrog Saints into fifth in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.
“I couldn’t be happier,” he said.
“I think a lot of the boys have stepped in, have been really hungry for some rugby and they showed what it meant to them to play for Wasps.
“I think the first half was excellent, there was some real accuracy out there. I thought in the second half we had control, not quite as dominant as we were in the first half but we’ve got to enjoy it.
“It had been ten years since we won here so hopefully it won’t be ten more before we do again.
“We thought we had to play. You can’t invite the Saints onto you, their set-piece is too good for that. If you give them field position you’ll come unstuck.
“But we had to play when it was on and I think the boys really made the right decisions, I thought they really attacked when the gaps and the space was there and we were really accurate to finish it off.
“I couldn’t have asked any more from them. All the questions that we asked of them before the game, they went and answered.”
While it was a great evening for Wasps, Northampton will be bitterly disappointed, conceding a home try in Aviva Premiership Rugby for the first time since October.
Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder was particularly frustrated at the lack of energy from his side, and knows they will have to be much-improved when they take on Harlequins at the Stoop next week.
“It was terrible, particularly at home,” he said.
“You never like to lose but that type of defeat, the first half we just didn’t turn up. You expect in a home game against one of your close competitors that the team would be up for it.
“We made a number of changes as they did, hoping there would be energy but we had no energy.
“We were flat in the first half, defensively terrible, the set-piece we didn’t get right at all and we were always in an uphill battle in the second half.
“We’ve all asked ourselves the question (as to why they were flat), I’ve asked the lads. We will do a bit of soul-searching which you do after these big defeats.
“Clearly it’s been a short turnaround but it was for Wasps as well so there’s no difference there. It’s an unacceptable performance.
“A lot of credit to Wasps, their set-piece was very good, they turned over a lot of our ball, George Smith was outstanding and really ran the show.
“There were real leadership qualities coming from him and they took their opportunities and we deserved to lose the game.”
Northampton Saints 11 Wasps 24
Northampton Saints: Mallinder, Elliott, Pisi (Wilson 60), Burrell, Collins, Myler (Hanrahan 67), Kessell (Dickson 45), A Waller (E Waller 49), Haywood (Williams 67), Brookes (Denman 60), Paterson (Craig 51), Matfield (Day 51), Wood, Harrison, Dickinson
Wasps: Miller (Jackson 73), Halai, Macken, Downey (Tagicakibau 65), Bassett, Gopperth, Robson (Stevenson 73), McIntyre (Bristow (65), Shervington (Johnson 49), Cooper-Woolley (Swainston 65), Gaskell, Myall (Cannon 60), Rieder (Young 60), Smith, Hughes
Penalties: Myler 2
Tries: Robson, Miller, Bassett
Conversions: Gopperth 3
Referee: Tom Foley