Wasps hand Saints their first Premiership defeat

Date published: October 10 2021 - News Desk

Northampton Saints’ unbeaten start to the Premiership campaign was ended at the Coventry Building Society Arena as 2020 finalists Wasps claimed a 26-20 triumph on Sunday.

It was an enthralling first half with both sides looking to move the ball quickly, but they couldn’t be separated at the break as Zach Kibirige’s try and Jacob Umaga’s penalty was cancelled out by Sam Matavesi and Dan Biggar.

Lee Blackett’s men won the key moments in the second period, though, and earned a 10-point buffer via Dan Robson’s converted score and another Umaga three-pointer.

Although the visitors hit back through Lewis Ludlam, successive Jimmy Gopperth efforts off the tee confirmed the victory for the home side.

Northampton had the final word as James Fish earned them a losing bonus-point, but it was very much Wasps’ day.

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Saints dominated the early stages, playing the opening 10 minutes in Wasps territory, and got their reward when Juarno Augustus charged through and offloaded superbly for the onrushing Matavesi to score.

The away side lost Matt Proctor to injury after just 14 minutes, meaning an early introduction for Rory Hutchinson.

And Wasps hit back as Gabriel Oghre and Robson combined to set Kibirige away down the right for a try on his 50th appearance for the club.

Umaga converted and the scores were level, despite Wasps having only had one meaningful attack in the opening 20 minutes of the game.

Augustus made a huge intervention to stop Wasps scoring again before Biggar slotted a penalty after 26 minutes to put Northampton back in front.

Wasps levelled as Umaga converted a scrum penalty before missing a kick on the stroke of half-time.

Northampton were forced to withdraw full-back George Furbank at the break, bringing Frank Lomani into the action and leaving them with no further backline replacements.

Wasps thought they had scored early in the second half, but Vaea Fifita’s effort was ruled out for a forward pass in the build-up.

The home side did go ahead for the first time 10 minutes into the second half as Umaga kicked a penalty earned at the scrum.

Umaga missed with another effort soon after, but Wasps were well on top and their dominance told when Thomas Young offloaded brilliantly for Robson to score.

Umaga converted to make it 20-10 to the hosts, but they lost Oghre to the sin bin for a high hit on Mitchell and Northampton soon scored, with Ludlam rumbling over from a lineout drive.

Biggar missed the conversion and Wasps missed a chance of their own at the other end as Umaga sent another effort wide.

Gopperth soon took over kicking duties, landing a penalty that put his team eight points up with 11 minutes to go.

He added another soon after before missing with a third attempt as the Northampton penalty count continued to stack up.

Saints struck at the death as Fish went over from a lineout drive to earn his side a losing bonus point.

Wasps had done enough to secure victory, but the match ended on a sour note when James Gaskell went down at the end with an apparent ankle injury.