Northampton Saints 30 Wasps 25: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

There were a couple of moments when it felt like the stars really had aligned at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.

Sunday, 30th May 2021, 1:32 pm
Updated Sunday, 30th May 2021, 1:34 pm
Tom Wood scored what proved to be the winning try against Wasps

The first came eight minutes from time after Wasps had lost possession from a lineout deep inside their own half.

In the corner of the Gardens where Tom Wood sent the Saints supporters into delirium during the dramatic closing stages of the 2014 Premiership semi-final, here he was again.

Wood pounced, picking up to score what proved to be the winning try.

Courtney Lawes returned to action with a huge performance

It felt so fitting, on a day when fans returned to the Gardens for the first time since December.

And the fact Wood's score proved to be so decisive owed plenty to a player at the opposite end of his Saints journey.

On the day Alex Waller made his 300th appearance for the black, green and gold, it was his protege, Manny Iyogun, who earned the penalty that won the game.

It was another apt moment, another memorable one, on a day that will be savoured for some time.

David Ribbans was one of the stars of the show

At a sun-soaked Gardens, a touch of the old normal finally returned.

There was so much excitement and energy that filtered on to the field of play, helping to drive this Saints team over the line.

And it made you wonder where they would be in the Gallagher Premiership table had fans been allowed in to watch them this season.

Of course, they may not have enjoyed such success on the road had that been the case, but you never know.

The Saints supporters were given reasons to smile on their return to the Gardens

As it is, Saints have fallen short of the Premiership play-off picture this season.

That was confirmed earlier on Saturday, when Harlequins' bonus-point win against Bath finally took the top four mathematically beyond Saints.

But Chris Boyd's side didn't let it dampen their spirits.

Instead, they ploughed on and gave their supporters a happy homecoming.

It was far from easy against a pesky Wasps side who refused to go quietly.

Three times, Lee Blackett's men pulled level during a see-saw first half.

And on several occasions they threatened to cut Saints apart.

The home side's lineout left a lot to be desired, and that is certainly an area of the game that needs real work this summer.

But Saints still had enough to win, and they still had their fans on their feet, especially when Ollie Sleightholme thought he'd scored one of the tries of the season.

The talented young wing, who had earlier sensationally prevented a Wasps score, showed off his incredible speed to chase down his own kick and ground the ball.

But the effort, which started well inside his own half, was pulled back for a knock-on right at the very start of it all.

It was such a shame, but it was still another one of those moments to savour for all those who were there to witness it.

The fans won't forget that - and they certainly won't forget the day the gates to the Gardens opened to them once again.

It has been a long winter for everyone, but this was a day to put an end to some of the darkness.

And how we have all missed watching Saints being roared to victory in the sun by their supporters.

Long may it continue.

How they rated...

TOMMY FREEMAN

Showed his class once again here, with one slaloming run from inside his own half taking Saints to the Wasps door... 7.5

OLLIE SLEIGHTHOLME

Made one incredible try-saving tackle and was sadly denied one of the scores of the season by a little knock-on at the start of the move... 8

MATT PROCTOR

Ran hard at Wasps when he got the chance and also did his bit defensively as he enjoyed the return of atmosphere to the Gardens... 7

FRASER DINGWALL

Wasn't able to play too much of a part in the game as he put his body on the line and had to come off with concussion... 6.5

TAQELE NAIYARAVORO

Looked like he fed off the return of the fans, getting hold of the ball as much as he could and running with everything he had at Wasps... 8

DAN BIGGAR

Typically influential. His touch-finder helped Saints to secure their first try. He kicked well and bossed the game in typical fashion at times... 8

TOM JAMES

Saints supporters, meet Tom James. The scrum-half played in front of fans at Franklin's Gardens for the first time and he was at the heart of most things, with his kicking so impressive... 8

ALEX WALLER

Looked like he loved every minute of his 300th appearance, giving everything he had to the cause as he helped his team to victory once again... 7.5

SAM MATAVESI

Grabbed a try on the back of a big drive during the first period and though the lineout didn't go too well, he made his presence felt around the field... 7

PAUL HILL

Was hungry to get involved in the action as the backs strutted their stuff in the sun, and he delivered another decent showing here... 7

DAVID RIBBANS

This guy just gets better and better. This was yet another all-action performance that proved so key for Saints, and he will surely have a big part to play with England this summer... 8.5

API RATUNIYARAWA

Celebrated his 100th Saints appearance with a win, and a strong showing, searching for openings in the Wasps defence and keeping the ball moving quickly... 8

COURTNEY LAWES

Made five turnovers on the day as the Lions star returned in typical style here, thwarting Wasps time and again... 8.5

LEWIS LUDLAM

Absolutely tireless once again as he tried to blast holes in the Wasps defence and also stood tall going the other way... 8

TOM WOOD - CHRON STAR MAN

Looks like he hasn't aged a day since arriving at Saints as he continues to produce hugely influential 80-minute showings. Scored the winner here as he ploughed on in relentless fashion... 8.5

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

PIERS FRANCIS (for Dingwall 30)

Made some huge hits, rocking Wasps back as he once again showed how important he can be in defence... 7.5

MIKE HAYWOOD (for Matavesi 59)

Looked eager to get involved as he charged around the field trying to stop Wasps in their tracks and doing his bit to get Saints over the line... 6.5

EHREN PAINTER (for Hill 59)

May have been slightly unfortunate to give away one penalty in front of the posts but didn't do too much wrong overall... 6

ALEX MOON (for Ratuniyarawa 59)

Got stuck in for his side, happily carrying hard at every opportunity and also helping to make tackles as Wasps tried to respond... 6.5