Saracens star Owen Farrell looks set to miss their Champions Cup quarter-final against Leinster after being sent-off for a shocking tackle in their 28-18 defeat to Wasps.
The scores were level on the hour mark when the England fly-half was dismissed for a horrible high hit on Charlie Atkinson.
Atkinson, an 18-year-old academy back, on the occasion of his second Premiership start, was grounded for a lengthy period before being helped from the field of play.
Farrell made an immediate admission to referee Christophe Ridley who wasted little time in giving him his marching orders.
It proved to be the game’s big turning point entering the final quarter as Tom Willis drove over for his first Premiership try and Jimmy Gopperth, on the occasion of his 100th club appearance, took his points haul to 23 as Wasps kept their focus firmly on achieving a top-four finish with a seventh win in eight games under head coach Lee Blackett.
A familiar face open the scoring as Elliot Daly strode over for a fourth minute try that was converted by Farrell.
The floodgates, however, did not open. Wasps worked their way back into the game and onto the scoreboard through Gopperth’s first of eight successful shots at goal.
Lock Tim Cardall then strode through a gap and Gopperth teased the retreating Alex Goode inside the 22 but his offload to Ben Vellacott was loose.
There was consolation for the near miss as Gopperth kicked a second penalty.
The veteran Kiwi, who turned 37 this summer, added two more penalties before the break including one from distance with the last play of the half as Vellacott tapped a penalty and made his side 15 quick metres before Saracens were penalised for going off their feet.
Shocked into action, Saracens cut the lead four minutes after the restart through Farrell’s routine penalty before the England captain linked beautifully with Daly to free Sean Maitland for a clean run into the line and Saracens were three points ahead.
Two more Gopperth penalties either side of Farrell’s red card opened a lead that was cancelled out by Alex Goode’s three pointer on the occasion of his 300th Saracens appearance.
Shocking swinging arm from Owen Farrell and deserved a red card. Decent ban coming too, I talked about his tackle technique on @TheRugbyPod previously and it was a case of when this happened not if….. pic.twitter.com/kpnkqjETrp
— Andy Goode (@AndyGoode10) September 5, 2020
With their man advantage Wasps played the final chapter of the game perfectly as Josh Bassett surged for the line only to come up metres short. From the recycle, Willis was driven over the line to put his side ahead.
Gopperth kicked the conversion and added a seventh successful penalty to secure Wasps a fourth successive away Premiership victory.
As a result, the Midlanders remain in fourth position but are being chased hard by Bath, who were hugely impressive in defeating Harlequins 41-20 in front of 2,700 fans at the Twickenham Stoop.
Apart from a blistering start that produced an early try for Joe Marchant, Quins were totally outgunned by the play-off-chasing West Countrymen, who had galloped out of sight two minutes into the second half.
It was Ruaridh McConnochie who delivered that killer blow as one of two tries seized with Eddie Jones watching from the stands and England’s head coach can only have been impressed by his clinical touch.
Adding to the wing’s try-scoring efficiency, and other efforts for Lewis Boyce and Elliott Stooke, was a masterful kicking display by Rhys Priestland, the Wales fly-half who finished the bonus-point triumph with an individual 21-point haul.
Meanwhile, Manu Tuilagi touched down against his former club Leicester Tigers as Sale Sharks moved back up to second position in the table.
The Tuilagi try highlighted a dominant first 50 minutes by Sale, with fly-half AJ MacGinty and captain Jono Ross also claiming touchdowns, while MacGinty kicked three conversions and a penalty, and Faf de Klerk dropped a goal.
Tuilagi was replaced midway through the second period just after a De Klerk penalty, and despite Leicester having their moments – Hanro Liebenberg, Jake Kerr and Freddie Steward scored tries and George Ford kicked 16 points – they were ultimately eclipsed.
Sale wing Denny Solomona claimed a bonus-point try 17 minutes from time, with MacGinty’s conversion giving him a 14-point haul as the Sharks prevailed.
In the final match on Saturday, Gloucester secured a 36-23 win over London Irish. They scored five tries, with Lloyd Evans, Ollie Thorley, Louis Rees-Zammit, Jack Stanley and Stephen Varney all going over.
The Exiles responded via Ollie Hassell-Collins and Agustin Creevy, whiles Paddy Jackson added 13 points from the tee, but the Cherry and Whites’ greater individual quality showed.