Fixtures - Top Bar

Match Reaction: Northampton Saints 15 Wasps 20

Wasps made it four wins from their opening four games for the first time in 20 years to top the Aviva Premiership Rugby standings on Saturday, and director of rugby Dai Young admits their flying start has left him pleasantly surprised.

Josh Bassett’s late try sealed a 20-15 triumph over Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens, but in truth they were made to work very hard for their win by their hosts.

Despite dominating in terms of territory, Saints found themselves behind at half-time after Jimmy Gopperth’s superb breakaway score and penalty cancelled out George North’s early try.

And despite countless opportunities for Northampton, another Gopperth penalty and Bassett’s effort on 79 minutes meant Tom Kessell’s sniping try when Nathan Hughes was sin-binned was no more than a consolation.

And Young was the first to admit that they had won the game with resolute defence rather than the expansive, free-flowing rugby that fans have come to expect from the men in black and gold.

“I think for a big part of the game we were up against it,” he said. “We certainly didn’t win that game on structure and being smart. We won that game on togetherness and heart.

“We found a way to win and that shows a lot of character within this team, we certainly didn’t play anything like we would have liked before the game. We were second best in a lot of areas, but we stuck together and found a way to win.

“I’m absolutely thrilled with the start, if you had offered me this before the start of the season I would have certainly taken it.

“It has gone far better than even I could have hoped. Naturally, there’s going to be a bump along the road somewhere and it will be about how we handle that.

“We didn’t play well today, defensively we rode our luck on occasions and we were loose with the ball. We are going to have to be better next week [against Harlequins], because you can’t always rely on the bit of luck that we got today.”

The bulk of the game was spent inside Wasps’ red zone, but despite all of Northampton’s pressure – they set up countless driving mauls, scrums and lineouts on the five-metre line – chance after chance slipped through their fingers.

And while there were huge positives to take in terms of the performances of George North and Harry Mallinder, director of rugby Jim Mallinder admits they need to work harder during the week with two home defeats from two so far this season.

“Wasps are a side who can score from anywhere and we saw that,” he said. “We were really dominant in the first half and we should have scored maybe three or four times.

“We worked hard to get into their third, but we just couldn’t finish it.

“Likewise in the second half, when we got into their 22 and I looked at the screen and saw we had a four on one walk-in if we’d got the ball out.

“I can’t complain about a lack of passion or effort – we worked really hard and we’re disappointed not to win that game.

“It’s life isn’t it? It doesn’t always goes the way you want. We had enough possession to win, but we didn’t and we’ve just got to keep going.

“We know we’re a good side. We’ve come up against two top teams [at home] and come close, but not close enough.

“It’s not a case of working harder, it’s a case of being a little bit more accurate and just those couple of finer points would make a massive difference.”

 

Northampton Saints: Foden (Tuala 64), K Pisi, G Pisi, Mallinder, North, Myler, Groom (Kessell 67), A Waller, Haywood, Brookes (Hill 64), Lawes, Dickinson (Paterson 54), Wood, Gibson (Harrison 54), Picamoles (Clare 69)

Replacements not used: Ma’afu, Hutchinson

 

Wasps: Miller, Wade, Daly, Gopperth, Bassett, Cipriani (Eastmond 45), Simpson (Robson 52), Mullan (McIntyre 52), Taylor (Johnson 61), Cooper-Woolley (Moore 52), Symons (Myall 61), Gaskell (Symons 62), Jones, Thompson (Young 61), Hughes

Replacement not used: De Luca

 

Northampton Saints

Tries: North, Kessell

Con: Myler

Pen: Myler

 

Wasps

Tries: Gopperth, Bassett

Cons: Gopperth 2

Pens: Gopperth 2

 

Referee: Luke Pearce

Attendance: 14,477

Latest News

Match Report: Wasps 35 Gloucester Rugby 22

Wasps utility back Jimmy Gopperth claimed 25 points including a hat-trick as his team restored a six-point advantage at the…

Match Report: Bristol Rugby 12 Bath Rugby 11

Gavin Henson kicked 12 points against former club Bath Rugby on his first Aviva Premiership Rugby start since October as…

Match Reaction: Exeter Chiefs 36 Newcastle Falcons 14

They may have gone above defending champions Saracens and into second place in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table, but Exeter…

Match Reaction: Saracens 29 Sale Sharks 18

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall picked out back rower Joel Conlon as the stand-out player in his side’s 29-18…

Match Reaction: Northampton Saints 24 Worcester Warriors 14

Jim Mallinder backed his side to continue their push up the table after they moved into Aviva Premiership Rugby’s top…

Match Report: Northampton Saints 24 Worcester Warriors 14

Mikey Haywood scored two tries as Northampton Saints came from behind to down Worcester Warriors and move into Aviva Premiership Rugby's…

Match Report: Exeter Chiefs 36 Newcastle Falcons 14

Exeter Chiefs fought their way to a bonus point victory over Newcastle Falcons to move up to second in Aviva…

Match Report: Saracens 29 Sale Sharks 18

Saracens recorded their first Aviva Premiership Rugby win since New Year’s Day with a 29-18 success over an in-form Sale…

Match Reaction: Harlequins 18 Leicester Tigers 27

Assistant coach Geordan Murphy tipped his cap to a steely second-half showing from the Leicester Tigers replacements, who changed the…

England Under-20 secure impressive bonus-point win over Italy

England secured their third bonus-point win of the 2017 Six Nations with an eight-try 46-0 victory over Italy at the…

Match Report: Harlequins 18 Leicester Tigers 27

Leicester Tigers’ impressive second-half comeback saw them score 24 unanswered points and stun hosts Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop to claim…