David Strettle gave Saracens a stunning last-gasp victory over Wasps, completing a hat-trick with a try in the dying moments of the first game of the London Double Header at Twickenham.
First-half tries from England wing Chris Ashton and Strettle helped Sarries to a 20-9 lead at the break before Nathan Hughes and Christian Wade – with a double – turned the game around for Wasps.
Strettle added his second try in the 61st minute to set up a tense final 20, which saw the 31-year-old complete a first ever London Double Header hat-trick with the last play of the game at Rugby HQ.
It was cruel on Wasps once again at the London Double Header after Andy Goode missed a last-gasp conversion in last season’s 16-15 defeat to Harlequins while the same team overturned a huge deficit to win 42-40 in 2012.
In a frantic opening five minutes Ashton deservedly put Saracens ahead, getting on the end of Charlie Hodgson’s inch-perfect grubber kick, who then converted from the sideline.
A moment of madness from Saracens’ Kelly Brown in the ninth minute saw him sent to the sin bin after cynical play at the breakdown.
Goode converted the penalty for Wasps before Saracens immediately responded through a well-struck Hodgson penalty to make it 10-3.
Ashton’s high tackle allowed Goode to reduce the deficit in the 16th minute from right in front of the posts but more ill-discipline from Wasps in their own 22 led to another successful Hodgson penalty.
Strettle heaped the pressure on Wasps in the 20th minute, pouncing on a misjudgement from full-back Rob Miller from Hodgson’s kick to go over in the corner with the try awarded via TMO.
The former England international once again added the conversion before Saracens were penalised on their own 22 and Goode, who made the break, effortlessly slotted the kick home.
Yet another infringement in the 22 from Wasps, this time in the line-out, gave Hodgson another penalty opportunity however his difficult kick went wide this time to keep the half-time score at 20-9.
Wasps came out fighting at the start of the second-half, Hodgson’s early knock-on giving them a scrum inside their own half.
Joe Simpson skilfully broke two tackles before charging up the field – Joe Launchbury expertly recycled the ball, his offload giving Hughes the chance to go over under the posts.
Wade then went over in the 54th minute to give Wasps the lead for the first time – thanks to a TMO decision – getting on the end of Goode’s chip into the corner.
Goode’s tough conversion this time went wide but Wasps’ charge continued in the 59th minute.
Sailosi Tagicakibau fed Ashley Johnson following a turnover, before the latter’s grubber kick was snaffled up by Wade who flew over under the posts.
England’s Owen Farrell was introduced in the 61st minute, and had an immediate impact for Saracens with superb vision to supply the pass for Strettle to go over for his second try of the afternoon.
Farrell then missed a long 75th-minute penalty attempt from the sideline but Strettle charged over again in the corner in the final play of the game to give ecstatic Sarries victory.