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Wasps 26 – 20 Saints: Northampton’s winning run ends in Coventry

Northampton Saints were beaten for the first time this Gallagher Premiership season as Wasps ran out 26-20 winners at the Coventry Building Society Arena.

The sides were deadlocked at 10-10 at the interval, with Sam Matavesi’s try and five points from the tee for Dan Biggar cancelled out by a Zach Kibirige effort and Wasps fly-half Jacob Umaga.

But the men in Black, Green and Gold were frustrated in the second 40, with Wasps pulling ahead through Dan Robson’s try and the boot of Jimmy Gopperth – although maul scores from Lewis Ludlam and then James Fish with the clock in the red at least salvaged a losing bonus point from a disappointing afternoon in Coventry.

The visitors dominated the opening 20 minutes of action, but after the first quarter the scores stood at 7-7.

A seventh-minute lineout move for Saints created the first opportunity of the game as Matt Proctor was released through the middle, but the centre was stopped short before Tom Willis won a penalty over the ball to relieve the pressure.

But Northampton were ahead shortly after with a belter of a try created by Juarno Augustus; the No.8 bumped off a defender before offloading out the back door to the onrushing Matavesi who finished under the posts.

Biggar’s conversion was on target but it was not all good news for Saints, with Proctor leaving the field after 15 minutes with a hand injury.

And, out of nowhere, Wasps were level four minutes later as a break down the right wing saw Robson draw the last defender before finding Kibirige to dot down in the corner.

Umaga converted well from out wide, and moments later Northampton were given a let-off as Augustus made a superb try-saving tackle on Thomas Young five metres from his own line.

In the 26th minute, a strip by Saints on their own 22 saw Tommy Freeman emerge with the ball. As the young wing kicked forward, Marcus Watson won the footrace, but there was George Furbank to get over the ball and win a breakdown penalty one phase later which Biggar duly kicked to make it 10-7.

However, Paul Hill was penalised at scrum time after 32 minutes, allowing Umaga to level the scores again from the tee – but the Wasps fly-half missed his next kick at goal on the stroke of half-time to send the sides into the sheds at 10-10.

Saints suffered another injury blow as Furbank was forced off at the interval, and Wasps looked to have started the second half with a try, but Vaea Fifita’s 43rd-minute effort was called back for a forward pass in the build-up.

Umaga added to his tally from the tee seven minutes later as Saints were penalised with increasing regularity by referee Craig Maxwell-Keys, and the fly-half was wayward with two more attempts shortly after.

Wasps pulled ten points clear just before the hour mark as Young’s excellent offload found Robson to score under the posts, and the hosts were then lucky to escape with only a yellow for replacement hooker Gabriel Oghre, who was penalised for a high tackle on Alex Mitchell.

Ludlam went over at the back of a rolling maul from the subsequent penalty as Saints looked to claw back some momentum, but two more penalties for Gopperth – who took over kicking duties after coming off the bench – either side of the 70-minute mark saw Wasps pull two scores clear.

With the final play of the game, Saints delivered another dominant lineout drive allowing Fish to go over to grab a losing bonus point.

The men in Black, Green and Gold will have a bye in the next round of Premiership action, before returning to cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens to lock horns with Worcester Warriors on Friday 22 October.

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