Saints too strong for Wasps
November 6, 2011
Northampton Saints overcame the threat of London Wasps on Sunday
Northampton notched their first away victory of the Aviva Premiership season with a 24-13 victory over London Wasps at Adams Park on Sunday.
A controversial try from loose-head Soane Tonga'uiha and another score from tight-head Brian Mujati along with 14 points from the boot of fly-half Ryan Lamb powered the Saints to a deserved victory to add fuel to their recent revival. A first-half try from centre Riki Flutey kept Wasps in touch at the break but a late score from lock Ross Filipo was their only reward after the break and as a result a disappointing week that has seen them part company with head coach Shaun Edwards and veteran lock Simon Shaw ended with their fourth league defeat.
A crunching hit by Northampton lock Courtney Lawes on Wasps fly-half Nicky Robinson in the opening exchanges set the tone for the clash but the hosts showed plenty of their own muscle with winger Christian Wade sending his opposite number Vasily Artemyev sailing into touch. Wasps also fronted up well in the scrum but much of their good work was undone on 12 minutes when loose-head Tim Payne was sin-binned for swinging a punch in the direction of Saints flanker Calum Clark.
Northampton, who had taken just one point from their three previous away games, soon capitalised on their advantage with a Lamb penalty after Flutey was penalised for not releasing having brought the Saints' playmaker down in midfield. But Wasps soon hit back with the opening try of the game - the first the Saints had conceded since September. A chip over the top from scrum-half Joe Simpson found space in the Northampton defence and winger Chris Ashton struggled to snuff out the danger. Wade pounced on the loose ball and showed great composure in popping it outside to Flutey who dived over unopposed in the corner.
Robinson failed to add the extras and his side were also guilty of switching off at the re-start with a simple offside penalty allowing Lamb to give his side the lead once more. But the lead would change hands again a few minutes later with Robinson landing a long range effort after Northampton were penalised for not rolling away at the tackle. Northampton were handed a chance to notch a near-immediate reply after another offside infringement but this time Lamb pulled his chance wide - with the Television Match Official required to confirm his miss.
But Lamb atoned for his wayward kick with a much better effort a couple of minutes later to edge his side ahead once more and he cemented his side's lead with another as the half drew to a close with Wasps' indiscipline and increasing cause for concern. There was still time for the Northampton scrum to turn the screw and the whistle went in their favour again in the dying moments of the opening period but Lamb failed to add to his tally.
Northampton wasted no time in hammering home their advantage following the re-start with a sweeping move resulting in Tonga'uiha stretching superbly to score his first try in over a year - but the home crowd were not happy as replays showed a blatant forward pass by Lawes in the build up to the score.
The touchline conversion proved too difficult for Lamb and he also pushed his next penalty attempt wide after some more impressive industry from his team-mates at the breakdown. But while they may have lacked a little skill at times, Saints were not short of brute force with Mujati powering in to score from 30m out after a barnstorming run proved too much for Robinson to handle.
Lamb's conversion gave the Saints a little more breathing room but Wasps raised their game to force the visitors onto the back foot inside their own 22. The Northampton defence rose to the challenge with the impressive Artemyev doing especially well to deny Wade a try after a well-judged cross kick from Simpson.
The penalties began to stack up against Saints prompting a warning from referee Tim Wigglesworth before Wasps flanker Jonathan Poff earned some hard yards in the shadow of the Northampton posts. The ball was recycled and worked wide where Filipo muscled his way over for his first Premiership try that gave his side a lifeline with ten minutes of the game remaining.
Wasps continued to press in the hope of securing rescuing something from the game only to be frustrated at every turn by a Saints side revitalised by a raft of changes. One last surge took them into the 22 but replacement Zak Taulafo spilled the ball to bring a disappointing end to his side's challenge.
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