Wasps 36 Northampton Saints 29: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

George North started for Saints against Wasps (pictures: Sharon Lucey)
George North started for Saints against Wasps (pictures: Sharon Lucey)

As has been the case on a few occasions during recent months, it was close but no cigar for Saints on the road against a top-four team.

Just as they did at Exeter and Newcastle, the black, green and gold pushed Wasps all the way.

And had they not given them so much breathing space after a sluggish start to the second half, they could have been celebrating another memorable success, like the one at Leicester 15 days earlier.

Saints had plenty of good moments at the Ricoh Arena and they eventually left with two Aviva Premiership points.

But had they shown a little more composure in defence and a bit more calmness in attack in the closing stages, they could have added a least a couple more points to their league tally.

The unfortunate tale is that Saints have been good but not quite good enough at times and, as has been said on so many occasions this season, play-off contenders win these tight matches rather than lose them.

During their successful seasons of years gone by, Saints would snatch wins at the death rather than fall short.

But, aside from that sensational victory at Welford Road, they have been unable to get over the line at the end against England's elite of late.

They have won just two of their 11 away matches in the Premiership this season and that is far from good enough for a club that used to roll teams over at will on the road.

It was positive to see that interim head coach Alan Dickens was taking little consolation in defeat in Coventry, expressing his frustration that results are not following performances.

High standards are important and, despite a season of struggle, they remain in place at Franklin's Gardens.

Saints moved up to ninth thanks to the points they picked up at Wasps, but everyone will be expecting so much better under new boss Chris Boyd next time round.

The Hurricanes head coach will believe he is capable of masterminding far more than the seven successes his new club have claimed from 21 league games so far.

And so he should.

Players such as Alex Mitchell, James Grayson and Tom Collins again showed that the future is bright with impressive cameos from the bench.

And, overall, the talent is there - it is just about mentality in key moments.

Saints have the potential to be higher up the table than they are, but that belief at crucial times has cost them this season.

There will be a huge shift in the playing squad this summer with around 17 players set to exit the club.

And this Saturday, supporters will hope to say goodbye to them after a win against a Worcester Warriors side who have also found victories hard to come by during this campaign.

Players like Stephen Myler and George North would like one last day of celebration at the Gardens - and the supporters who have flocked to see their team this season certainly deserve one.

How they rated...

AHSEE TUALA
Etched his name on the scoresheet during the second half and looked good going forward but apologised to supporters after the game as he felt he had let himself down defensively... 5

BEN FODEN
Is still showing he has plenty to offer, but was unable to have too much of a say in a match when Wasps exploited Saints out wide... 6

LUTHER BURRELL
Saw yellow after slipping into a challenge on Christian Wade and though he provided some good go-forward in attack, he was occasionally caught out in defence... 5

PIERS FRANCIS
Has really settled into the 12 shirt and the signs are good for next season as he has displayed attacking and defensive ability in recent weeks... 7

GEORGE NORTH
Wasn't able to have a big say in this game as Wasps shut him down well and gave Saints the runaround out wide... 5

STEPHEN MYLER
Kicked well from the tee once again and put in a steady enough showing for the 55 minutes he was on the field... 6

COBUS REINACH
A couple of his kicks weren't the best and he missed the chance to release Collins during a breakaway, but this was largely a good and lively display from the scrum-half... 7

ALEX WALLER
Managed to escape the wrath of the referee on one occasion and is getting stronger after his return from injury... 6

MIKE HAYWOOD
Plenty of energy and enthusiasm as usual from the hooker, who continues to show his importance to the team... 6

PAUL HILL
Hogged the headlines after his superb showing at Leicester and while this was less eventful, he still did well... 6

API RATUNIYARAWA
A towering display from the lock, who continually took the fight to Wasps and managed to score a try by using his power... 8

JAMES CRAIG
Wasn't able to have the kind of influence he had a Leicester but didn't do much wrong on the day... 6

JAMIE GIBSON - CHRON STAR MAN
What more can be said about this man? He never dips no matter how his team are playing and this was another all-action display that England should take note of... 8

TEIMANA HARRISON
Like Gibson, this man seems to be unable to feel tiredness as he relentlessly steps up in attack and defence... 8

MITCH EADIE
Promising signs from the No.8 in recent weeks and he is showing why Saints signed him from Bristol last summer with a strong carrying ability... 7

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

JAMES GRAYSON (for Myler 55)

Appears to have a big future at the club as he shows composure under pressure and is like Myler in displaying calmness from the tee... 6

Stephen Myler was on kicking duties

Stephen Myler was on kicking duties

Tom Collins came off the bench during the second half

Tom Collins came off the bench during the second half

Teimana Harrison impressed once again

Teimana Harrison impressed once again

Saints couldn't force their way over as Wasps won a penalty to effectively end the game

Saints couldn't force their way over as Wasps won a penalty to effectively end the game