Wasps revival continues with thrilling win
December 20, 2008
England wing Paul Sackey scored one of Wasps' three tries
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Replacement Dave Walder sparked a blistering three-try final 10 minutes for Wasps as Ian McGeechan's men clocked up a fourth consecutive win. With just nine minutes remaining Wasps looked dead and buried but two Walder passes set Rob Hoadley and Josh Lewsey over for scores, while England wing Paul Sackey charged down a Noah Cato kick to add another try.
Sarries will be kicking themselves after dominating the second half as they missed out on a first win on Wasps soil in 11 years. Wasps will be wondering how they were not out of sight at the break after wasting a glut of scoring opportunities - with out-of-form England fly-half Danny Cipriani the biggest culprit.
Cipriani missed two kickable penalties and a drop goal, while Sarries played for 10 minutes with just 14 men after the sin-binning of flanker Wikus van Heerden. Scrum-half Eoin Reddan almost carved out a dream start for Wasps. He showed quick thinking from a scrum, beat two defenders but Sackey knocked on with the line at his mercy.
However, it did not take long for Wasps to take the lead. The Sarries defence was penalised after Hoadley, a late replacement for Dominic Waldouck just minutes before the first whistle, punched a hole in the Saracens defence and Cipriani knocked over the subsequent penalty.
From the restart Wasps failed to roll away at the breakdown and the Premiership's top scorer Glen Jackson, who was rested last week alongside Andy Farrell against Bayonne, drew Sarries level. Cipriani then missed a kickable penalty and a long-range drop goal as Wasps struggled to turn possession and pitch territory into points.
The Englishman finally put Wasps back in front, following more Saracens indiscipline - but it was not the final scoring of the half. Jackson levelled but Cipriani redeemed himself just seconds before the break by kicking the defending Premiership champions back in front.
England lock Tom Palmer was sent to the sin-bin early in the second half for not rolling away, prompting a Wasps' collapse. Jackson brought the scores level from the resulting penalty, before England under-20 Grand Slam winner Cato scored on 51 minutes.
Following a Saracens scrum, Alex Goode collected the ball and fed Cato, who had previously been a mere bystander, to score his fifth Guinness Premiership try of the season after pushing aside Lachlan Mitchell. Mitchell was again at fault minutes later after he was caught on his line by Cato and penalised for holding on, allowing Jackson to kick an easy penalty.
Replacement Walder, who was dropped following last weekend's win over Edinburgh, kicked Wasps back into contention to set up a grandstand finish. But three tries in five blistering minutes ensured Wasps did not slip to yet another Premiership loss, with Hoadley, Sackey and Lewsey all touching down.
Hoadley was the lucky recipient on 71 minutes, out wide, of continued Wasps' phases up front, while Sackey charged down a Cato kick to take Wasps clear. Lewsey spotted a gap in the Sarries defence to burst through to score under the posts on 76 minutes, before Cato brought some respectability to the score the late on by beating two men to score his second try of the game.
Saracens boss Eddie Jones was frustrated by his side's defending, as they dominated possession but were unable to secure an elusive win at Adams Park.
"Two of their tries came from ruck balls and two decent passes saw them score," Jones said. "We had the right attitude but for some reason we lost concentration and our defence was not good enough. We made improvements but we were still not good enough - we had opportunities to win the game but by missing them we allowed Wasps back in.
"Noah Cato is only a kid and he will learn from his mistake. But he showed today with his two tries that he is a great talent. He is an outstanding lad but has only been playing rugby for a short time and you can see he will be a cracking player."
Jones also put the cat amongst the pigeons by refusing to rule out a move for Wasps fly-half Danny Cipriani, who is currently engaged in transfer negotiations.
"I am interested in anyone that is a good player and can help Saracens. In January I will assess if any of the players are good enough and what Saracens need," Jones said. "We need to develop our young players (Noah Cato and Alex Goode) and bring in players that can help us challenge."
McGeechan was unimpressed by Jones' words, and snapped when questioned about the continued contract wrangling.
"The contract situation is not unsettling any of the players and they are our business not yours," he said. "The attitude of the players has been first class this week and that was shown on the field.
"I was concerned we did not have enough points on the board but we played some of the best rugby I have seen in a while in the first half. We produced a great effort in the last quarter to play the rugby we had in the first half and it resulted in three tries - and this was the result we deserved."
Wasps: Mitchell, Sackey, Hoadley, Lewsey, Voyce, Cipriani, Reddan, Payne, Webber, Vickery, Shaw, Palmer, Worsley, Rees, Haskell.
Replacements: Ward, French, Skivington, Betsen, Simpson, Walder, Bishay.
Saracens: Goode, Ratuvou, Sorrell, A. Farrell, Cato, Jackson, De Kock, Aguero, Ongaro, Johnston, Borthwick, Jack, Skirving, Van Heerden, Owen.
Replacements: Kyriacou, Visagie, Vyvyan, Saull, Rauluni, Barritt, Powell.