Northampton Saints assistant coach Alan Dickens insists his side’s defensive efforts were their greatest asset as they prevented Wasps from scoring a try to secure themselves an LV= Cup semi-final place.
The visitors enjoyed the lion’s share of territory and possession in the first half at Franklin’s Gardens, but a determined Saints rearguard limited them to just two Alex Lozowski penalties.
Going forward, a try from debutant Ahsee Tuala was added to by scores from Phil Dowson, Jamie Elliott and Kahn Fotuali’i, as the hosts continued their efforts to reach a second consecutive LV= Cup final.
And Dickens believes it was the defensive willingness of his team in contact, coupled with a ruthless display of finishing, that saw them secure victory against their now Midlands rivals.
“We said at half-time that we defended a lot and after 80 minutes we said that too, but the pleasing thing is they didn’t score,” Dickens said.
“The energy and enthusiasm for the boys to make tackles and get back on their feet in the defensive line was evident.
“It’s been part of our defence for the past two seasons that we don’t want to give away easy tries and you saw that with our boys defending for their lives towards the end, even though the game was pretty comfortable.
“We were pretty clinical in attack as well and took our chances when they came. We needed to win after the defeat to Leicester last weekend and we’ll worry about the semi-final when we get to that week.”
Wasps’ profligacy in the opposition 22 was a stark contrast to last week’s thrilling contest against Cardiff Blues, where the Coventry-based side ran in six tries, including three in a breathless first 20 minutes.
And backs coach Stephen Jones acknowledged that Wasps' inaccuracy in attack contributed to the destruction of any faint hopes of qualifying for the final four.
“There were a lot of changes for us this week and we’ll be disappointed that we didn’t cross the try-line,” Jones said.
“It will definitely be a focus for us ahead of the Harlequins game this week and we need to be smarter in how we play.
“There are no excuses, we still fielded a very strong team and we had a lot of possession.”
Northampton Saints: Tuala; Pisi, Waldouck, Stephenson (Pisi G 59), Elliott; Olver (Hooley 68), Fotuali’i (Day 59); Corbisiero (Waller 26), Williams (Haywood 53), Denman (Ma’afu 57); Ryder, Craig (Woolford 53); Dowson, Harrison (Nutley 57), Dickinson
Wasps: Miller (Hughes G 56); Bassett (McIntyre 11), Daly, Helu, Varndell; Lozowski, Gash (Walsh 62); Yapp (Eastwell 11), Lindsay (Festuccia 49), Taylor (Cooper-Woolley 49); Rowlands (Myall 49), Cannon; Jackson, Young (Hughes 68), Thompson
Tries: Tuala, Dowson, Elliott, Fotuali’i
Conversions: Olver 3
Pens: Lozowski 2
Referee: Steve Lee
Tickets for this year's LV= Cup Final on 22 March at Franklin's Gardens are now on sale.Click here to snap one up from just £20 for adults, £10 for juniors to see who will win the first silverware of the season.