Tom Vickers’ Wasps v Northampton Saints view and player ratings

Calum Clark first said it after the final game of pre-season - and it was equally true at Adams Park on Sunday.

By Tom Vickers
Monday, 15th September 2014, 11:33 am
KEY MOMENT - George North touches down at Adams Park, but his try was disallowed (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
KEY MOMENT - George North touches down at Adams Park, but his try was disallowed (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Following Saints’ dramatic late defeat to Newport-Gwent Dragons, Clark, battered and bruised after a ferocious display from the hosts, faced a few questions.

In his honest appraisal, he mentioned how the Dragons victory was ‘celebrated like they had won the league’.

The 27-25 win had meant that much.

London Wasps v Northampton Saints. Aviva Premiership, Adams Park, High Wycombe. George North and Lee Dickson. NNL-140914-204605009

And it was a similar feeling at the weekend, as Saints were felled, causing a thud you might hear had one of the trees that overlooks Wasps’ home been chopped down.

The home fans celebrated in style, with some opting to dance down the steps next to the press bench.

Yes, it meant that much.

Because not only had Wasps finally ended a 10-match winning run against Saints, they had beaten last season’s champions. And that means a lot.

London Wasps v Northampton Saints. Aviva Premiership, Adams Park, High Wycombe. Luther Burrell. NNL-140914-204623005

Jim Mallinder and his players knew this moment would arrive.

They knew it wouldn’t take long before they went away from home and felt the full force of a team desperate to take their scalp.

That it happened in this game is not necessarily a surprise, especially given their past two wins in High Wycombe have both come via a last-minute Stephen Myler kick.

And there was no hint of surprise about how Wasps played, and how determined they were to shut Saints out.

London Wasps v Northampton Saints. Aviva Premiership, Adams Park, High Wycombe. Lee Dickson adn Samu Manoa NNL-140914-204533009

Dai Young’s men are well-drilled and they were out to impress, eager to get off to a flying start at home, to put bums on seats in the coming weeks and months.

They did just that - and, judging by the reaction to the victory, their mission will be accomplished.

For Saints though, backsides will have been kicked rather than sat on.

This defeat served as an early-season reminder of what happens when they are not at their ruthless best.

London Wasps v Northampton Saints. Aviva Premiership, Adams Park, High Wycombe. George Pisi NNL-140914-204333005

Wasps took advantage of a disallowed George North try and proceeded to make a mad few minutes count, grabbing a lead big enough to hold on to.

And they held onto it with all they had, making tackle after tackle as Saints were swarmed by a sea of black.

The away side got into the 22 on a number of occasions, but couldn’t make the possession pay, until Ben Foden finally found a way over just before the end.

Mallinder made no excuses afterwards. He and his men know they must learn to deal with the pressure being champions brings.

They know they must not let the anxiety of what other teams will bring creep in.

They know they have to play with a swagger that puts the opposition on the back foot, because otherwise it is they who will be on it.

Putting that into practice is another matter, but the sound of the Wasps celebrations will be exactly the incentive they need for their next away day, at Newcastle next weekend.

How they rated...


Aside from one drop, the Kiwi looked hugely assured and did some sterling defensive work, putting his body on the line to halt a first-half Varndell surge... 7


His neat chip for North’s non-try was a moment of inspiration in an otherwise scrappy game, and the Samoan did well... 7


Didn’t get as much joy as against Gloucester nine days earlier and wasn’t able to stamp his authority on the game... 6


Not the easiest of afternoons for the England man, who was so impressive against Gloucester. His intercepted pass was the spark Wasps needed to earn the win... 5


A hat-trick on the opening day, but nothing to show for his efforts here. His disallowed try summed things up for Saints... 6


Has been the match-winner on Saints’ past two trips to Adams Park, but couldn’t be the hero here as his team left themselves with too much to do... 6


Saints were on the front foot for much of the first half and the scrum-half did his best to play with the pace needed to break Wasps down. It couldn’t be done though... 6


Was yellow-carded for his part in an incident with Ashley Johnson and it was part of a frustrating day for the away team... 5


The captain threw himself into everything as he tried to push his team on, but there was no way through until Foden’s late score... 7


His passion could not be questioned as he tried to get involved as much as possible, but the Wasps pack stood up to the test... 6


Like Hartley, carried the fight at every opportunity and also made some big tackles as Saints tried to dominate their hosts... 7


Saints were leading 9-3 when he was forced off the pitch with an injury and the break in play, allied with his absence, helped Wasps regroup to build the win... 6


No shortage of effort from the flanker, who did his best to help Saints force their way over the tryline... 6


Never shirks any responsibility and continually took hold of the ball as he tried to inspire the team... 7


His eyes would have lit up as he found himself on the back of a dominant maul, but he was well stopped by Joe Simpson in an incident that proved key... 6

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

KAHN FOTUALI’I (for Dickson 50)

Added an immediate spark to proceedings, with a fine break earning a penalty and a late pass finding Foden for the try. One kick cost Saints, but did more good than bad... 7

BEN FODEN (for Wilson 55)

Got himself on the scoresheet and looked hungry when he entered the fray, adding plenty to the mix... 7

JAMES CRAIG (for Day 56)

Came into the game with Saints looking comfortable, but could do little to stop what happened next... 6

CHRON STAR MAN - James Haskell (Wasps)