Josh Bassett scored two tries as Wasps claimed a crucial 34-21 bonus-point win over the Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday.
In a fairly even contest, the difference between victory and defeat proved to be Wasps’ clinical execution compared to Northampton’s wastefulness.
Despite an equal share in possession and territory, Wasps applied all the scoreboard pressure and when Northampton did get within touching distance, the visitors would strike back almost immediately to reinstate their sizeable lead.
The result moves Wasps up from sixth to fourth in the competition standings, ahead of Northampton and Bath.
Dan Biggar opened the scoring with a penalty for Saints, but that would be the only time the hosts were in the front in this match. Wasps grabbed two first half tries via Josh Bassett and Jack Willis for a 14-6 points advantage going into the break.
And the damage would have been greater for Saints, had Wasps not had a third try disallowed.
Northampton started the second half better than they did the first. But they left empty-handed from their excursions into the 22 on more occasions than they’d care to admit. Wasps try-scorer Jack Willis was a menace at the breakdown, making several telling turnovers for his side.
But Northampton eventually punctured Wasps’ well-organised and stingy defence to move within one, only for the effort to be erased as they conceded a converted try within three minutes of their own.
Heading into the final quarter, Lima Sopoaga took over the kicking duties from Jimmy Gopperth and struck a penalty to drive Wasps further clear. But no sooner after the restart and the former All Black was yellow carded for a deliberate knock down. In his absence, Northampton chalked up eight points.
But even with their lead sliced to three points, Wasps seemed to have everything under control. With just under five minutes to go, the visitors managed to score a further 10 points, including Bassett’s second try which ensured his side leaves Franklin’s Gardens with the maximum log points on offer.
Northampton Saints – Tries: Alex Mitchell, David Ribbans. Conversion: Dan Biggar. Penalties: Biggar (3).
Wasps – Tries: Josh Bassett (2), Jack Willis, Ben Harris. Conversions: Jimmy Gopperth (3), Lima Sopoaga. Penalties: Sopoaga (2).
Northampton – 15 George Furbank, 14 Harry Mallinder, 13 Fraser Dingwall, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Ahsee Tuala, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Teimana Harrison (c), 7 Lewis Ludlam, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Api Ratuniyarawa, 4 David Ribbans, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Francois van Wyk.
Subs: 16 Sam Matavesi, 17 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Alex Coles, 20 JJ Tonks, 21 Henry Taylor, 22 Matt Proctor, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro.
Wasps – 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Jack Willis, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Joe Launchbury (c), 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ben Harris.
Subs: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Tom West, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Sione Vailanu, 21 Ben Vellacott, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Ryan Mills.
Photo: Wasps Rugby