It was another heartbreaker for the Saints at the Ricoh Arena, Matt Mullan’s last-gasp try and Jimmy Gopperth’s conversion stealing the Aviva Premiership win away from the travellers.
Ben Foden, Ahsee Tuala, George North, Alex Waller and Teimana Harrison scored the Saints’ five tries that saw them head home with two bonus points, scant reward given some of the play at both ends of the pitch in what was an entertaining game which featured nine tries in all.
However it was also a game of fine margins, and had Foden’s late kick ahead not bounced frustratingly over the dead ball line then Wasps would not have had the position from which they built the pressure for the match-winning score.
So while director of rugby Jim Mallinder was understandably frustrated by the eventual outcome he was nonetheless proud of the performance put in by all 23 players who featured.
“I thought the team played really well,” he told BBC Radio Northampton. “Our attacking play was good and we defended for our lives at times. There are always going to be line breaks by Wasps, who have good players and are going to put you under pressure, and on another day we could have won that game.
“There were a few things that could have gone our way, and to lose in the final play of the game – again – was very disappointing. There are some things to work on from the last 10 minutes, like the lineout that could have put them under pressure, while Ben Foden’s kick was one of those things, which just kept bouncing on the hard football pitch.
“We are going in the right direction and are not going to give up. We’ve got Saracens at home in Milton Keynes next week and hopefully we can get a win.”
Saints’ five tries made it 27 in all in the eight Aviva Premiership matches played this calendar year, and Mallinder added that the expansive way the team has been playing is very much part of the coaches’ beliefs.
“Pitches are hardening up now and everyone’s put under pressure in attack and defence,” he commented. “We’ve got a good team now, as you can see, and I thought all the players played well.
“It’s how we want to play. We ran from deep quite a lot today, which was a tactic because they had quite a lot of players deep, and I think it worked well.”
Saints are now tied on 47 Aviva Premiership league points with Harlequins in the chase for next season’s Champions Cup, and Bath and Leicester are just five points ahead in the battle for the top four. This makes next weekend’s game against Saracens all-the-more important, and every voice will count at Stadium MK.
Tickets remain available from £15, so head to www.tinyurl.com/SAI-SAR-1617 to book now!