TOP BAR - Fixtures

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

Toby Flood starts for Newcastle Falcons against Rotherham Titans

Toby Flood makes the first start of his second spell at Newcastle Falcons on Saturday when they host Rotherham Titans…

Joe Marler commits to Harlequins until 2021

Harlequins is thrilled to announce today, Friday 18th August, that England and British and Irish Lions prop, Joe Marler, has…

Joe Marler

European fixtures to be released on Tuesday

The fixtures for the 2017/18 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup season will be announced on Tuesday, 22 August at 3.00pm…

Rokoduguni starts for Bath Rugby against Ospreys

Semesa Rokoduguni will make his first appearance of pre-season when Bath Rugby take on Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on…

Harlequins team to play Jersey Reds

Harlequins has announced the squad to play Jersey Reds in the final match of the 2017/18 pre-season campaign, at The…

Francis Saili

Stringer starts for Worcester Warriors at Birmingham Moseley

Summer signing Peter Stringer will get his first start for Warriors on Friday night as his side take on Birmingham…

London Irish name side for Ealing Trailfinders clash

London Irish have named a 30-man squad for this Friday’s pre-season clash with Ealing Trailfinders at Hazelwood (kick-off 7.30pm). The…

Gloucester Rugby announce line-ups for preseason friendly at Leinster

Gloucester Rugby will give game time to a number of their first team squad in Leinster on Friday evening as…

American rugby players and coaches to get once in a lifetime opportunity

Thirty American rugby players and coaches are being handed the chance of a lifetime to train in England with Premiership…

Stephen Myler: Northampton Saints ready to fight for the title

Stephen Myler is predicting the closest ever Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign and believes his Northampton Saints side will be right…

Sonatane Takulua expecting big things from Newcastle Falcons this season

Sonatane Takulua believes unity and a collective purpose, combined with an improved playing pool, can help propel Newcastle Falcons up…

Sonatane Takulua

Wasps name team for first pre-season fixture against Ulster

Dai Young has named a 26-man squad to take on Ulster Rugby at Kingspan Stadium in the first pre-season fixture…

Anglo-Welsh Cup 2017-18 launched

WORCESTER WARRIORS have the honour of hosting the opening match in this year’s Anglo-Welsh Cup on Friday 3 November, when…

Leicester Tigers win the Anglo Welsh Cup

Ally Hogg pleased by Newcastle Falcons’ early progress

Ally Hogg believes Newcastle Falcons are well set to attack the new Aviva Premiership season after a double dose of…

Ally Hogg

Topsy Ojo relishing Exiles return to Aviva Premiership Rugby action at HQ

Topsy Ojo believes there could be no more fitting way for London Irish to announce their return as an Aviva…

Newcastle Falcons’ Sonatane Takulua sees Philadelphia trip as a ‘great opportunity’

Newcastle Falcons’ Sonatane Takulua insists his side’s September clash with Saracens in Philadelphia will be no holiday for the players,…

Sonatane Takulua

Harlequins statement: Luke Wallace and Jonas Mikalcius

Harlequins can confirm today (Tuesday 15th August) that flanker Luke Wallace dislocated his hip during the pre-season friendly against London…

Luke Wallace

London Irish kick-off Anglo-Welsh Cup at home to Bath

London Irish will host Bath Rugby at the Madejski Stadium in the opening round of the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Saturday…

London Irish kick-off Anglo-Welsh Cup at home to Bath

HITZ graduate secures first full time job after being inspired by Premiership Rugby final

A teenager from Leigh who overcame a troubled home life and tackled confidence and communication issues thanks to Premiership Rugby…

Lucy Neal