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Match Report: Wasps 36 – 40 Northampton Saints

Courtnall Skosan and Alex Coles snatched a remarkable come-from-behind victory for Northampton Saints at Wasps with two tries in the final two minutes of a pulsating game in Coventry.

Saints trailed 18-11 at the break thanks to a score from Coles with the score in the red, after two Dan Biggar penalties kept Phil Dowson’s side in touch in the Gallagher Premiership encounter.

But all the drama was to unfold after the break after Wasps stretched out their lead to 30-14, as first man-of-the-match Ollie Sleightholme reduced the deficit before Jacob Umaga was red carded as he dangerously took out Skosan in the air with the Springbok wing about to score.

A late penalty from the hosts took them two scores clear with just a handful of minutes left on the clock, but Northampton set the Coventry Building Society Arena on fire in the final moments of the game with two blistering tries from Coles and then Skosan to snatch a stunning comeback win.

FIRST HALF

Saints started on the front foot, booting an early penalty into the corner, and after Wasps had cleared their lines thanks to a turnover from Gabriel Oghre, won another penalty which Biggar kicked for some early points.

The hosts then landed a sucker punch as Nizaam Carr broke the Saints line before releasing Jack Willis for the score. Umaga added the extras and Wasps held a 7-3 lead, Biggar soon landed another penalty to cut the gap to a point.

However, Wasps soon had their second score as they kicked a penalty to the corner, sucked Saints in and sent the ball wide for Paolo Odogwu to dot down.

Umaga missed the conversion, but he soon made amends with a couple of long-range penalties to stretch his side’s lead to 12 points.

Saints gave themselves hope on the stroke of half-time as Biggar provided a moment of magic, kicking ahead before juggling with the ball and palming it off to the onrushing Coles for the score.

Biggar took a knock in the process, meaning George Furbank took over kicking duty, and with blood streaming from his face, his conversion attempt drifted just wide of the left post to leave the deficit at seven points as the sides went into the sheds.

SECOND HALF

The lead was down to four points shortly after the interval after a brilliant break from Ollie Sleightholme gave Saints a chance to attack in the Wasps 22, and when the hosts infringed, Biggar made no mistake with the penalty from in front of the posts.

Saints’ No.10 was forced off due to injury shortly after, bringing Skosan into the action, with Furbank switching to fly-half and Tommy Freeman moving to fullback.

However, Jack Willis was having a field day at the breakdown, winning a series of penalties which enabled Wasps to apply pressure and eventually – after Odogwu went close – Oghre picked up to score.

Umaga converted and it was soon an even steeper mountain to climb for Northampton as Charlie Atkinson dotted down a loose ball after Josh Bassett and Freeman tangled trying to reach Atkinson’s grubber through.

Umaga missed the conversion and Saints quickly responded, piecing together a tidy try that ended with Fraser Dingwall drawing his man superbly before giving it to Sleightholme for the score.

Umaga gave Wasps some breathing space with another impressive kick from halfway after Saints gave away another penalty, but the fullback was given his marching orders not long after by referee Adam Leal as he took out Skosan in the air following a lovely cross-field kick from Furbank.

The red card also saw Northampton awarded a penalty try, leaving them with 13 minutes to try to win the game from 33-28 down.

The game looked to be over when Hutchinson was trapped inside his own 22, conceding a penalty that allowed Will Haydon-Wood to put his team eight points clear with three minutes to go.

But Saints refused to give up and after some strong work from replacement Juarno Augustus on the left, Alex Mitchell sent Coles in for his second.

It looked unlikely there would be enough time for Saints to win it – but out of nowhere, big carries from Coles and David Ribbans saw Northampton charge out of their half, and Freeman’s final pass was a thing of beauty for Skosan to score the match-winning try with the final play of an incredible game.

LINE-UPS

WASPS: Umaga, Odogwu (Haydon-Wood 66), Odendaal, Mills, Bassett, Atkinson, Robson (Porter 40); Hislop (Martinez 50), Oghre, Ryan (Alo 55), Launchbury (c) (Cardall 40), McDonald, Morris (Curran 13), J Willis, Carr.

SAINTS: Furbank, Freeman, Proctor (Hutchinson 50), Dingwall, Sleightholme, Biggar (Skosan 48), Mitchell; A Waller (E Waller 50), S Matavesi (Smith 77), Hill (Petch 56), Salakaia-Loto, Moon (Ribbans 56), Coles, Ludlam (c), Graham (Augustus 50).

REFEREE: Adam Leal

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