Northampton Saints 27 Wasps 22: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

When livewire Wasps replacement Will Porter scored with five minutes to go, an audible groan could be heard around the Gardens.

By Tom Vickers
Monday, 14th March 2022, 2:39 pm
Updated Monday, 14th March 2022, 2:40 pm
David Ribbans roared after Saints secured a key late penalty
David Ribbans roared after Saints secured a key late penalty

Surely Saints weren't going to do it again.

Surely they weren't going to lose another game in which they had held a healthy second-half lead.

Surely Wasps wouldn't follow Sale Sharks, Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester in inflicting late agony on Chris Boyd's side.

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Thankfully though, with the nerves jangling once more, Saints held out.

Not only that, they had a couple of late penalty chances to take Wasps out of losing bonus point range.

James Grayson was unable to land either kick, keeping the tension going right until the final whistle.

But this time there was no Saintly dismay.

Instead, heartache was replaced by hearty celebrations.

Because finally Saints hadn't stopped at three tries and then seen themselves fall at the final hurdle.

This time they had registered that crucial bonus-point score - seeing two ruled out prior to it - and got the job done.

And while it effectively ended Wasps' top-four bid, Saints can still just about believe that theirs is still alive.

It is a long way back, and they would need pretty much a flawless run to achieve it.

But at least they can still just about dream as their main men put their feet up during the forthcoming Premiership Rugby Cup weekend.

There is no doubt they won't be totally satisfied with the display against Wasps, with some of the defending once again not up to scratch.

Wasps scored some tries Saints would expect to prevent, and it kept the Coventry-based side in the fight.

But in terms of attitude, application and, at times, quality, Saints delivered here.

Every week after suffering such a disappointing denouement they could have let their confidence take a hit.

And when they went 10-0 down against Wasps, it would have been easy for the black, green and gold to go into their shells.

But this is a group of players who have experienced gut-wrenching runs of defeats before, and they now know how to react.

They certainly did that as they roared back and took a 12-10 lead into half-time.

And there can be no doubting that on another day, they would have won this game far more comfortably.

For a start, Wasps' first try should not have been given.

And Saints were denied a couple of their own in the second period before Courtnall Skosan finally secured that precious bonus-point effort.

But it didn't matter how much Saints won by.

It only mattered that they won.

That is something that we haven't been able to say since they beat Worcester Warriors back in January.

And it is something we haven't been able to say at the Gardens since they beat Bath in December.

It was a long overdue and timely success.

Whether it ultimately provides the platform for a late play-off push seems unlikely and remains to be seen.

But the first step is often the hardest, and Saints took it on Sunday afternoon.

How they rated...

GEORGE FURBANK

Was denied a try by obstruction in the build-up, but was always looking to make inroads even though Wasps shackled him quite well... 7

COURTNALL SKOSAN

Looked assured in almost everything that he did, and once again he found his way to the try line... 7

FRASER DINGWALL

So combative and such a magnet for the ball, often getting hold of it when it was bouncing loose and setting up Skosan's score... 7.5

RORY HUTCHINSON

Looked to cause Wasps problems with his intelligent running, but they didn't let him have the kind of impact he was able to at Gloucester on the previous weekend... 7

TOM COLLINS

Was so sharp with ball in hand and his footwork was too much for Wasps to handle at times as he made a few trademark runs... 7

JAMES GRAYSON

Not the best day from the tee but he more than made up for it around the park, making some big hits, securing the ball at the breakdown and delivering a try-saving intervention... 7.5

ALEX MITCHELL

This man is just so important to Saints right now as he makes them tick with his sharpness and his ability to keep the opposition on their toes... 7.5

ALEX WALLER

A good day for the milestone man, aside from seeing a Saints try ruled out for a push on Dan Robson. Showed great determination to deliver a score early in the second half... 7

SAM MATAVESI

Another big shift from the hooker, who showcased his footwork once more and who also made a huge amount of tackles... 7.5

PAUL HILL

Got better and better as the game went on, putting in so much work and helping to secure penalties at the breakdown and in the scrum... 7.5

DAVID RIBBANS - CHRON STAR MAN

What a way to mark his 100th match for Saints! The lock was so strong in every aspect of the game, even delivering a few lovely offloads... 8

API RATUNIYARAWA

Got through a huge amount of work and, like Ribbans, he also showed he can pass under pressure, too... 7.5

ALEX COLES

Made some really good runs and carried so hard, forcing Wasps back as he continued to show how much of a prospect he is... 7.5

TEIMANA HARRISON

Got through an eye-watering 18 tackles in his 48 minutes on the field as his work ethic once again came to the fore... 7

JUARNO AUGUSTUS

His power was important to Saints as they blasted a few holes in the Wasps defence, sucking them in so the backs could play... 7.5

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

JJ TONKS (for Harrison 48)

Made some decent contributions off the bench and will hope for some more game time this week... 6.5

MANNY IYOGUN (for Waller 57)

This young man continues to impress and he not only helped to win a scrum penalty but also a crucial one at the breakdown... 7