Hughes off as Saints beat Wasps

Date published: March 28 2015

Northampton moved 14 points clear at the Premiership summit as they beat Wasps, who had Nathan Hughes sent off, 52-30 at Franklin's Gardens on Friday.

Leaders Northampton were shocked by a Wasps side who raced out of the blocks, as Christian Wade gave the now Coventry-based side the lead as he sprinted down the field before racing through the posts to silence the Franklin's Gardens crowd. Wade finished off a lovely passing move before darting down the field, and Alex Lozowski was able to convert. 

But the Saints fired back five minutes later in the form of Welsh international George North. North was on the receiving end of a lovely kick across the field, and evaded Wade to dive over, before Stephen Myler failed to level when his converted effort bounced off the posts.

Lozowski made Myler pay for that slip, sending through a well executed penalty to stretch the lead back up to five points, in a frantic opening at the Gardens. 

A third try came inside the opening 15 minutes, and once again it was that man Wade who went over. The decision had to be approved by the TMO, who checked whether the Wasps man grounded the ball. 

It came via a delightful pass from Lozowski, as Wasps broke again and that lead was soon up to 12 as a surprise 17-5 lead came for the visitors. 

Though Myler kicked through three points to reduce the arrears, Lozowski, already with a perfect record for the night, sent through a further kick and with five minutes until the break Wasps had a 12 point advantage. 

But the game hinged on one huge decision, as Wasps were reduced to 14 for the remainder of the night in the same move that they conceded a try. North went over for his second try, all this despite the fact Hughes appeared to strike the Welshman in the head, and accidentally or not, left little choice for the referee who issued the red card. 

Myler couldn't send through the kick, though Wasps had an almighty task with over 40 minutes still to play. 

They had a penalty try awarded against them too prior to the break, perhaps harshly, as the scores were levelled.

On the brink of half-time, that red card told, and a third try in a matter of minutes came for the hosts in a game that was in truth, ruined as a spectacle by that red. Corbisiero went over for the bonus point try, Myler converting as the game turned on its head thanks to a single decision. 

Into the second half, and the impressive Lozowski continued his good form in front of the posts with another penalty, as Wasps refused to lie down after a storming first half performance. 

Myler put that lead back up to seven with a successful kick, and stretched it to ten minutes later. But once again Wade went over, grabbing his hat-trick in a man of the match performance from the England man. Lozowski made no mistake, and just three points were in the game as Wasps continued to battle despite losing Hughes early on. 

But it wasn't to be for Wasps, who were put straight onto the back foot after that try. Ken Pisi eventually forced Northampton over following a sustained spell of pressure, probably just deserved for their strong showing since the red card. Myler's conversion put the lead up to 10, in an incredible game that barely gave either set of fans the chance to breathe. 

The scoring wasn't finished, Ahsee Tuala's effort allowed despite the intervention of the TMO, who had to check for a push, and Myler kicking through the posts. Those two points saw Myler etch his name at the top of the Saints Premiership points scorers, on a memorable night for all those in attendance. 

Tuala grabbed his second in a matter of minutes, again almost being pulled up by the TMO, but that brought up the half-century for Saints. Myler failed to score, but the game had been won by the hosts, who notched seven tries compared to Wasps' three.

The scorers:

For Northampton:
Tries: North 2, Penalty, Corbisiero, K Pisi, Tuala 2
Con: Myler 4
Pen: Myler 3

For Wasps:
Tries: Wade 3
Con: Lozowski 3
Pen: Lozowski 3
Red: Hughes (knee to head – 35 mins)

Northampton: 15 James Wilson, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Tom Stephenson, 11 George North, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Samu Manoa, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Tom Wood, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Jon Fisher, 21 Kahn Fotuali'i, 22 Dom Waldouck, 23 Ahsee Tuala.

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 James Downey, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 James Cannon, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Edd Shervington, 1 Matt Mullan (c).
Replacements: 16 Simon McIntyre, 17 Phil Swainston, 18 James Gaskell, 19 Ed Jackson, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Piri Weepu, 22 Glyn Hughes, 23 Will Helu.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Simon McConnell, Nigel Carrick
TMO: Keith Lewis