London Wasps 13 Saracens 22 match report: Wasps stung by Saracens' second-half comeback


adams park

These are the games that win championships. The days when opponents stick to you like glue, when your gameplan is compromised, when your kicker is off-colour but still the resolve is there to come through victorious.

With three games of the regular season left Saracens are 11 points clear of Harlequins in third and virtually guaranteed a home play-off in the semi-finals. Maybe they felt the hot breath of Leicester on their necks, but during the second half at Adams Park they took a grip on the game that Wasps could not shake.

It showed in every facet of play. In the first quarter Wasps started like a train, scoring 13 points in as many minutes, but thereafter their set-piece fell away and they conceded possession with alarming regularity. After next Friday's European date with Leinster they face games against Leicester, Exeter Chiefs and Sale Sharks in which to secure, at best, a top-six place and Heineken Cup qualification next season.

"We have got better at recovering from setbacks," Mark McCall, the Saracens director of rugby, said. "We didn't panic, we hung in there and got points on the board.

"We were also able to take four or five of our main players out of the firing line and our bench made a huge difference."

That bench included Jacques Burger, Namibia's captain who had not played an elite game since the 2011 World Cup while recovering from a complex knee operation. By the time he replaced Jackson Wray Saracens had control of the match, if not the scoreboard, and the benefits of a trip to relax in Verbier during the week were beginning to show.

Had Wasps been able to replicate their first-quarter heroics after the interval, when they had similar territorial dominance, they might have been able to have at least nicked a losing bonus point. But not for nothing is the Saracens defence labelled the meanest in the Premiership, and the Wasps statisticians reckoned their players made 16 handling errors, a turnover rate which the best sides will always punish.

Elliot Daly, along with Joe Launchbury the star of the Wasps show, kicked two long penalties and Christian Wade snatched his 10th Premiership try of the season with a 60-metre interception of Charlie Hodgson's pass. But the seeds of Wasps' destruction came when they turned their backs on a Saracens penalty, expecting their opponents to wait while Neil de Kock received treatment; instead Alex Goode tapped the ball and sent Chris Wyles burrowing over for a try, the second time this season Wasps have been caught napping this way.

Having missed two kicks at goal (he missed another in the second half), Owen Farrell added a penalty before the interval and only a last-gasp steal by Launchbury stopped Mako Vunipola scoring when he was over the Wasps line. Saracens shrugged off the yellow card awarded to Mouritz Botha and finally found ways through the stubborn Wasps defence.

First Duncan Taylor broke clear, paving the way for another Farrell penalty, and though Saracens found instructive ways of spurning try-scoring chances, they edged ahead through Chris Ashton. The England wing has had his critics this season but here he worked hard in defence and, at the second attempt, touched down in the corner from Goode's grub-kick.

Farrell added two close-range penalties, the first against Zak Taulafo, whose offside play saw him occupy the sin-bin for the last 10 minutes, the second when the Wasps scrum collapsed on their own line.

It leaves the leaders well placed for next Saturday's Heineken Cup quarter-final against Ulster at Twickenham, before they strive to cement their top-two Premiership place in the run-in against Worcester Warriors, Gloucester and Bath.

London Wasps E Daly; C Wade, A Masi (H Southwell, 75), C Bell, T Varndell; Stephen Jones (N Robinson, 56), J Simpson; Z Taulafo, T Lindsay (R Thomas, 52), P Swainston (W Taylor, 61), J Launchbury, M Wentzel (capt; Palmer, 56), A Johnson, B Vunipola (T Payne, 73), Sam Jones (J Poff, 64).

Saracens A Goode; C Ashton, J Tomkins (D Taylor, 53), O Farrell, C Wyles; C Hodgson, N de Kock (R Wigglesworth, 52); M Vunipola (R Gill, 67), J Smit (J George, 52), P du Plessis (C Nieto, 61), S Borthwick (capt), M Botha (G Kruis, 64), J Wray (J Burger, 61), E Joubert, W Fraser.

Referee M Fox (Leicestershire).

London Wasps

Try: Wade

Con: Jones

Pens: Daly 2


Tries: Wyles, Ashton

Pens: Farrell 4

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform