Northampton Wanderers’ ninth straight bonus-point victory guaranteed themselves top spot in the Premiership Rugby A League Northern Conference, as well as a home semi-final.
The resounding eleven-try triumph over Wasps at Franklin's Gardens on Monday evening was also their fifteenth A League win in a row, leaving them just three shy of the competition record currently held by Wasps.
Try doubles from Tom Collins and Alex Mitchell wrapped up a bonus point before half-time, with Charlie Clare and George Furbank both also crossing in the first half with James Grayson metronomic from the tee.
The visitors enjoyed a lot of the ball in the opening exchanges, but a big turnover from Lewis Ludlam sparked a Saints attack, and Collins cut inside from the left to finish off a brilliant solo score – a carbon copy of the try he scored against Leicester Tigers earlier in the season.
Wandies kept up the pressure and after Wasps were twice pinged by referee Steve Lee, Grayson kicked the ball into the corner and Clare touched down at the back of the resulting driving maul.
From the kick-off, Paddy Ryan claimed an impressive turnover in midfield and there was Clare again to break a tackle and offload to James Craig. The lock then found Mitchell in space who accelerated into the corner.
And Wandies had the bonus-point try by the 20th minute, with a stunning break down the right flank by Ken Pisi setting up Furbank inside him, and Grayson nailed his fourth conversion of the evening to send Northampton 28-0 in front.
Collins displayed dazzling feet again after 26 minutes from inside his own half to break the Wasps line and outpace the last couple of defenders as Northampton notched a fifth, but the visitors finally responded seven minutes later with a well-worked George Thornton try in the left corner.
Scrum-half Mitchell also touched down for his second of the night just before the interval, before Dingwall joined the party soon after the resumption as he benefitted from some great work from captain Stephenson, who skipped through a tackle and provided the assist.
Tom Jubb hit back for Wasps but it was soon normal service resumed as Mitchell broke off the back of a scrum and the ball came wide to Collins, who drew two defenders and expertly offloaded for Elliott to score.
A beautiful set-piece move from the men in Black, Green and Gold then put Pisi away again through the middle, and he could take his pick for the offload as the Wandies surged forward with numbers – Stephenson eventually touching down under the posts.
Wasps rallied in the final ten minutes as Devante Onojaife saw yellow and Dan Moor scored twice, first intercepting as Wandies attempted another set-piece move, before collecting an offload from Owain James to notch his second.
But the hosts finished with a flourish to score with the final play of the game, shoving a Wasps scrum back over their line for Moon to dot down, although the superb Grayson finally missed from the tee as his effort hit the post – having landed all ten conversions beforehand.
WANDIES: Furbank, T Collins, Dingwall, Stephenson, Pisi, Grayson, Mitchell, Trinder, Clare, Painter, Moon, Craig, Ludlam, Ryan, Eadie
Replacements: Fish, Beesley, M Collins, Allman, D Onojaife, Kessell, Estelles, Elliott
WASPS: James, Moor, Anderson, Eastgate, Goble, Jardine, Hampson, Thornton, Oghre, Stuart, Garratt, Jubb, Curran, Seabrook, Willis
Replacements: Thompson, Higgins, Doran Jones, Gray, Salt, Owen, Porter, Palmer
5’ WANDIES Try Collins, Conversion Grayson 7-0
11’ WANDIES Try Clare, Conversion Grayson 14-0
13’ WANDIES Try Mitchell, Conversion Grayson 21-0
20’ WANDIES Try Furbank, Conversion Grayson 28-0
26’ WANDIES Try Collins, Conversion Grayson 35-0
33’ WASPS Try Thornton, Conversion Jardine 35-7
39’ WANDIES Try Mitchell, Conversion Grayson 42-7
HALF-TIME: Wandies 42 – 7 Wasps
45’ WANDIES Try Dingwall, Conversion Grayson 49-7
50’ WASPS Try Jubb, Conversion Jardine 49-14
54’ WANDIES Try Elliott, Conversion Grayson 56-14
56’ WANDIES Try Collins, Conversion Grayson 63-14
58’ WANDIES Try Stephenson, Conversion Grayson 70-14
62’ WASPS Try Moor 70-19
75’ WASPS Try Moor, Conversion Jardine 70-26
79’ WANDIES Try Moon 75-26
FULL TIME: Wandies 75 – 26 Wasps