Wasps' winning run ends at Allianz Park

Wasps’ unbeaten run came to an end, as they were well beaten by the reigning champions, who replaced them at the top of the Premiership table. 

30 - 14
Saracens Wasps

Sun 9th October 2016
3:00 pm

Allianz Park Stadium Aviva Premiership As it happened
13-8 down at the break, Wasps were  unable to take advantage of the strong wind in the second half, but remained well in contention until two late tries by replacement Jamie George took the game out of their reach. The result means that they go into the block of European fixtures in second place in the Premiership, two points behind Saracens, and one ahead of third-placed Bath.

Wasps made a late change to their lineup ahead of kick off, when Tommy Taylor was taken ill. Tom Cruse took his place at hooker, to make his club debut, with James Gaskell coming on to the bench.

The game began with Wasps playing into a stiff breeze. With three minutes gone, Saracens came close to the opening score, when a chip ahead bounced into the arms of Schalk Brits, and the hooker charged down the left wing, before being stopped just short of the line. Wasps were penalised at the breakdown, Saracens went to the corner, and Mako Vunipola powered his way over from the lineout. Alex Lozowski missed the touchline conversion.

Wasps were finding it hard to break out of their own half, and the game was being largely played between halfway and their 22. With the Saracens defence coming up at speed, they made more use of tactical kicking than in any other previous game. They eventually found their way across halfway, when they won a breakdown penalty, from which Danny Cipriani found touch near the 22. They won the lineout and put together their first passage of controlled play, until Wasps lost control of a slippery ball and knocked on a few metres outside the 22.

A few minutes later, another penalty took them back into the 22. Although the lineout was driven back, Saracens were ruled to have collapsed the maul. This time, the penalty found touch near the corner. Possession was won, and the drive launched, but a breakdown offence gave Saracens the chance to relieve the pressure.

Thirteen minutes before halftime, a surging run by Ashley Johnson took Wasps deep into the home 22. They won a penalty, skipper Jimmy Gopperth decided to go for the posts, and his kick made the score 5-3. Four minutes later, the home pack produced a powerful scrum, which yielded a penalty, just outside the Wasps 22, and Alex Lozowski’s kick restored the five-point advantage.

Three minutes before halftime, Wasps drew level following a superb piece of play by Danny Cipriani. He broke round the blindside and threw a dummy, standing up Billy Vunipola and managing to split the defence. He fed Josh Bassett, and the winger went in from the 22, for his third try in three games. Jimmy Gopperth’s conversion attempt went narrowly wide of the left-hand post.

Before the restart, Wasps were forced to make a replacement, following several minutes of treatment to Kearnan Myall. He was able to leave the field unaided, and his place was taken by Joe Launchbury.

Saracens had been putting Dan Robson under extreme pressure all afternoon, and it was Maro Itoje’s charge-down of the scrum-half’s kick, from a lineout on the Wasps 22, which led to their retaking the lead, in the final play of the half. The ball flew infield, Mako Vunipola gathered and made several metres, before Billy Vunipola’s charge took him up to the line, and Richard Wigglesworth’s long pass sent Mike Ellery over, near the right corner. Lozowski was unable to land the conversion, and the halftime whistle blew, with the home side 13-8 ahead. 

Joe Simpson replaced Dan Robson at the start of the second half. Within seconds of the restart, Elliot Daly took a quick penalty just inside his own half. He made several metres before feeding Danny Cipriani, who sent a kick towards the line. He was just beaten to the bouncing ball by Alex Lozowski, who gathered behind the line and started a counterattack on the left. They reached the 22, before a breakdown offence gave Wasps a penalty, which was sent to the corner. An impressive drive took play to within metres of the line, but the ball was buried beneath a pile of bodies and Saracens were awarded the put-in to the scrum.

After 47 minutes, Wasps’ pressure won them a penalty just outside the 22. From almost in-front of the posts, Jimmy Gopperth was on target to reduce the deficit to 13-11. Three minutes later, Elliot Daly’s snap drop at goal went just below the bar, after Wasps had pounced on a stray pass to take play up to the Saracens 22.

In the 54th minutes, Lozowski landed a straightforward penalty to take the score to 16-11. Wasps then replaced both props, with Matt Mullan and Jake Cooper-Woolley taking over from Simon McIntyre and Marty Moore. Minutes later, Rob Miller made way for Kyle Eastmond.

On 59 minutes, Lozowski missed a chance to stretch the lead to eight points when he pushed a penalty to the left of the posts. Further Wasps replacements brought James Gaskell and Alex Rieder on, for Matt Symons and Ashley Johnson.

After being pinned down in their territory for several minutes, Wasps snapped up a loose ball and Josh Bassett raced away down the left. He was brought down as he tried to step inside the final defender. Wasps moved back across field, and made a series of drives for the line before Maro Itoje somehow stole the ball to end the attack. Wasps did win a penalty, and Jimmy Gopperth narrowed the gap to 16-14. 

Saracens responded immediately, with a series of charges for the line. They were kept out by some outstanding defence but the pressure eventually told, when Jamie George forced his way over near the posts. Lozowski’s conversion took his side nine points clear. 

Almost immediately, they threatened down the left, and Josh Bassett was shown a yellow card for a high tackle a few metres from the line.  With a bonus point in sight, Saracens went for the corner and an unstoppable lineout drive ended with Jamie George touching down for his second try. Replacement Ben Spencer took on the kicking duties, and his conversion took the score to a comfortable 30-14.

With only pride to play for, Wasps tried to attack from deep, but were unable to break clear, and the final whistle ended their best start to the season in twenty years.

Saracens Line ups

  1. Mako Vunipola
  2. Schalk Brits
  3. Juan Figallo
  4. Maro Itoje
  5. George Kruis
  6. Michael Rhodes
  7. Schalk Burger
  8. Billy Vunipola
  9. Richard Wigglesworth
  10. Alex Lozowski
  11. Chris Wyles
  12. Bradley Barritt
  13. Marcelo Bosch
  14. Michael Ellery
  15. Sean Maitland
  16. Jamie George
  17. Titi Lamositele
  18. Petrus Du Plessis
  19. Jim Hamilton
  20. Jackson Wray
  21. Ben Spencer
  22. Nick Tompkins
  23. Matthew Gallagher

Wasps Line ups

  1. Simon McIntyre
  2. Tom Cruse
  3. Martin Moore
  4. Matt Symons
  5. Kearnan Myall
  6. Ashley Johnson
  7. Thomas Young
  8. Nathan Hughes
  9. Dan Robson
  10. Danny Cipriani
  11. Josh Bassett
  12. Jimmy Gopperth
  13. Elliot Daly
  14. Christian Wade
  15. Rob Miller
  16. James Gaskell
  17. Matt Mullan
  18. Jake Cooper-Woolley
  19. Joe Launchbury
  20. Alex Rieder
  21. Joe Simpson
  22. Kyle Eastmond
  23. Frank Halai