Departing Edwards hints at going into exile
Wasps 13 Northampton 24
The consensus that Northampton will climb the Premiership table
now their World Cup players are back was reinforced by this
comprehensive victory. Two third-quarter tries by props Soane
Tonga'uiha and Brian Mujati were too much for a struggling Wasps
side distracted in part by saying goodbye to Shaun Edwards.
Wasps' despondent players stayed on the pitch to applaud a presentation to Edwards after his recent parting with the club where he spent 10 years, latterly as the head coach. Edwards is out of contract with Wales too, after being their defence specialist since 2008. Wasps director Lawrence Dallaglio and Northampton's England wing Chris Ashton used press interviews yesterday to advance Edwards's case for England employment. But the former Wigan rugby league legend hinted for the first time that a move abroad might be on his radar.
Asked about England – and perhaps nudging the RFU along – Edwards said: "When you're a free agent you consider any roles that come your way. Maybe even go overseas – [that] could be an option for me at a certain time in my career. I've got to decide that over the next six to eight weeks."
Speaking over the Wasps PA system to their biggest crowd of the season (8,222) Edwards nominated the Heineken Cup triumphs of 2004 and 2007 as his highlights. Wasps look a long way off being able to repeat those feats any time soon. A team's worth of internationals has gone into retirement or off to other clubs in recent seasons and the owner, Steve Hayes, is looking for a buyer and a new idea for a better stadium.
On the pitch, the roles of two of the second rows were instructive. Wasps' Marco Wentzel was a ubiquitous workhorse, yet his side found themselves light at the breakdown and conceded too many penalties for offside and killing the ball. Simon Shaw might have lent Wentzel support or relief from the bench, but the England veteran is under a cloud as he seeks a move abroad.
Meanwhile, Northampton's England second row Courtney Lawes showed yet again he is prepared to risk censure for his trademark tackles and he was marginally the right side of the law with a couple of ballistic lunges at Nicky Robinson and Hugo Southwell.
"I'm just being myself," said Lawes, who was sent to the sin-bin for a shoulder charge against Newcastle the previous weekend. "I don't go out to play dirty, I live on the edge and I like to make big hits." His director of rugby, Jim Mallinder, concurred. "Take that out of his game and you'd have half the player," Mallinder said.
Riki Flutey's neat try from Joe Simpson's box-kick and Christian Wade's clever lobbed pass, plus a Robinson penalty, kept Wasps within four points at half-time after Ryan Lamb kicked four of his six penalties. What looked a blatant forward pass from Lawes to Tom May assisted in Tonga'uiha's try a minute into the second half, then the galloping Mujati swatted Robinson away for a try converted by Lamb. A second Wasps try in the 71st minute by Ross Filipo – the lock first slowed down the move then retrieved it with a dive from a ruck – made little difference.
Wasps: Tries Flutey, Filipo; Penalty Robinson.
Northampton: Tries Tonga'uiha, Mujati; Conversion Lamb; Penalties Lamb 4.
Wasps H Southwell; C Wade, C Bell, R Flutey, T Varndell (C Mayor, 76); N Robinson, J Simpson; T Payne, R Webber (T Lindsay, 65), B Broster (Z Taulafo, 58), R Filipo, M Wentzel, R Birkett, J Poff (M Everard, 71), J Hart (capt, J Burton, 75).
Northampton B Foden; C Ashton, J Clarke, T May, V Artemyev; R Lamb (S Myler, 69), L Dickson (M Roberts, 69); S Tonga'uiha (A Waller, 71), D Hartley (capt, M Haywood, 76), B Mujati (P Doran-Jones, 65), C Lawes (S Manoa, 64), M Sorenson, C Clark (T Wood, 59), R Dowson, R Wilson.
Referee T Wigglesworth (Yorkshire).
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