Despite a valiant effort from Saints' future stars, Wasps prevailed and denied Saints a spot in the Premiership Rugby Academies League Finals Day with a win at Tilsley Park in the final league match of the season.
Wasps put in a good attack early on with the skipper Will Porter breaking through Saints line and offloading to Curran metres from the line. The Wasps flanker was halted just short, however, and and Saints cleared with the resulting penalty.
Despite a strong start from the hosts, Saints were first off the mark. Ollie Sleightholme scooted over in the corner after a solid team attack. Connor Tupai’s conversion was carried just wide in the wind.
Wasps rejected a shot at the posts after earning penalty at the breakdown, instead sending the ball into the corner for a lineout within Saints’s 22. The maul to the line was held up by Saints but the home side soon had the ball back in hand with a turnover and were pushing to the tryline again. A maul eventually made it over and Alfie Barbeary was at the back to dot down.
Wasps got on the scoreboard again straight away, with a break from Murray Bellis on the half way line seeing the winger over the line after a slinking run through Saints’ defence. The away side hit back immediately with a score of their own.
Freddie Davies got them close before the ball was whipped out to the wing for Sleightholme to scramble over for his second of the afternoon. Despite the wind, Tupai sent this conversion over to give Saints the lead.
A break from Tosin Segun in the midfield set up Saints next score. Quick hands got the ball to Joe Green who found a gap in Wasps’ defence and ran in from the halfway line to score. Tupai converted once again.
Once again the home side responded immediately with a score of their own. This time Kieran Sayer got over the whitewash after good drives from the forwards. Finn Pieterson’s conversion fell just short and ended the half with a four-point lead for Saints.
Wasps looked to attack from the restart but Alex Coles stripped the ball from his opposite and a stolen lineout moments later left space open for Devante Onojaife to storm up the midfield.
A break from Tom Willis got Wasps close to the tryline on the 40-minute mark and pushed hard against Saints’ defence. Eventually a gap opened up for Porter to scoot over the line. Pieterson sent the easy conversion over to give the home side a three-point lead.
Wasps got close to the line again with a brilliant break from Paddy Harris and though Saints managed to hold him out the home side got over the line in the next phase.
Saints worked hard again to get back into Wasps’ 22 and sent a driving maul close to the line. The ball popped out for Zac Bean to dob over the line. Tupai’s conversion was on the money and Saints had pulled the game back to one point.
It was to be Wasps who had the last word, however. Another dropped high ball let Bellis collect and dash in for his second. Porter’s conversion took Wasps’ further into the lead and with the home side with possesion again in the game’s dying minutes meant the home side secured the victory and meant that Saints were denied a spot at Finals Day.
WASPS Selman; Taju Atta, Murray Bellis, Sam Spink, Brendan Clark, Finn Pieterson, Will Porter (capt); Joe Salkeld, Alfie Barbeary, Strange, Sayer, Joe Tunney, Curran, James Seabrook, Tom Willis
Subs – George Probyn, Jarod Leat, Paddy Harris, Kiff, Alfred Mawdsley, Tom Bishop, Mike Taylor, Matt Wells
SAINTS Green, Segun, Dingwall, Strachan, Sleightholme, Tupai, Warn; Charalambous, Risman, Painter, West, Coles, Davies, Britton, Onojaife
Subs – Thompson, Wacokecoke, Dix, Finch, Wallace, Creighton, Cappaert, Bean
5mins SAINTS Try Sleightholme 0-5
10mins WASPS Try Barbeary 5-5
13mins WASPS Try Bellis 10-5
15mins SAINTS Try Sleightholme Con Tupai 10-12
28mins SAINTS Try Green Con Tupai 10-19
34mins WASPS Try Sayer 15-19
HALF TIME Wasps 15 Saints 19
41mins WASPS Try Porter Con Pieterson 22-19
50mins WASPS Try Willis 27-19
67mins SAINTS Try Bean Con Tupai 27-26
70mins WASPS Try Bellis Con Porter 32-26
FULL TIME Wasps 32 Saints 26