Northampton Wanderers secured their third bonus point win in three matches in the Premiership Rugby Shield as they headed to Broadstreet RFC to face Wasps in the last fixture of 2018.
Tries from Api Ratuniyarawa, Ollie Slieghtholme and a brace from Alex Mitchell had earned Wandies the try bonus point before the break, before a further score from Sleightholme put Wandies clear on 45 minutes.
And though the hosts brought the game back within two points in the closing minutes, the men in Black, Green and Gold held out to secure their third win in as many weeks.
Wanderers got off to the best of starts pressuring their hosts well to get themselves within inches inside the two-minute mark. And when the ball found Ratuniyarawa, the towering lock did not need asking twice from that distance.
Grayson’s conversion took the score to 7-0 and Wandies wasted no time in claiming their second. Quick thinking from Grayson in the midfield set Andrew Kellaway free in space and with Sleightholme in pursuit the wings teamed up to send the latter over on the 5-minute mark.
An impressive solo effort from Gabriel Lovobalavu got the hosts' scoring started but Wandies were straight back on the attack and after a maul got them close, Mitchell sniped over from close range for their third score of the afternoon.
But Wasps would respond and after a period of pressure got them within Wandies’ 22, the forwards barrelled over and Gabriel Oghre emerged from the pile of bodies with the ball.
And Wandies had the bonus point wrapped up by the half-hour mark. Samson Ma’asi rounded the back of a maul, finding Andrew Kellaway who in turn found Mitchell to see the scrum-half claim his second of the afternoon.
Wasps came straight back at the double reigning champions though and a looping run from Marcus Watson saw the wing over in the corner for the home side’s third.
A Grayson penalty put Wandies 31-19 up at the turnaround but the hosts came straight back at the men in Black, Green and Gold after the break. An unbelievable show of pace from Ben Christie saw the home tighthead prop race in from 30 metres out to earn his side’s fourth score.
But Wandies responded instantly and after a driving maul got them close, Davies darted around the corner to feed Sleightholme out wide for his second.
The scoring slowed until around the hour mark and a period of back and forth ensued between the sides. It was to be the home side that prevailed in that period, working themselves close before Watson scooted over for his second.
Now a one-score game, Wandies were under pressure and a penalty from Umaga brought the game within two points.
And though Wasps kept coming, Wandies held out to claim the narrow win and end 2018 on a high.