Weakened Wasps focus on limiting the damage

Northampton 39 London Wasps 3

Considering where Northampton have been this calendar year, yesterday represented the best of returns. Their second Aviva Premiership win of 2011 – three of their six defeats have been at home – lifts them back into a play-off position.

But, for all the return of their England quartet, they made desperately hard work of putting away a patchwork quilt of a London Wasps side. Within 24 hours, the visitors lost three backs – Ben Jacobs to a damaged hamstring in training, Dom Waldouck during the warm-up and Steve Kefu in the first half – and were forced to field Joe Simpson, their England squad scrum-half, on the wing and Jack Wallace, the academy full-back, at centre, with Josh Lewsey emerging from retirement for the final 10 minutes.

Lewsey, 34, agreed last week to return for the rest of the season after two years away from a game in which he won every conceivable honour, but the size of the problems facing Wasps loom almost as large as the Everest expedition which defeated him last year. They were beaten in almost every phase of play save in the tackle, where they defended their line with such grim intensity that, at one stage, it seemed Northampton might be denied a bonus point.

"We needed to create momentum, after beating Leeds, and we have another home game [against Sale Sharks] next week before a massive European quarter-final with Ulster," Jim Mallinder, Northampton's director of rugby, said. "We think we're in quite a good position."

As significant for Mallinder as the availability of his current internationals is the return to fitness of Lee Dickson and Courtney Lawes, the lock disappointed that England did not offer him a recall during the Six Nations after his recovery from a knee injury.

Wasps did well to limit Northampton to three tries before the interval: Brian Mujati crossed in the corner after patient play by his backs, complete scrummaging superiority earned a penalty try and Chris Ashton's kick ahead from turnover ball saw Ben Foden beat Richard Haughton to the touchdown.

But the second half was a chapter of errors and bizarrely different ways of losing possession before Hartley managed to put the over-eager Ashton into the corner for the fourth try. It was appropriate that Northampton's pack secured the fifth, heaving Wasps off their own scrum ball to give Stuart Commins his first Premiership try.

Scorers: Northampton: Tries Mujati, penalty try, Foden, Ashton, Commins; Conversions Myler 2, Geraghty 2; Penalties Myler 2. London Wasps: Penalty Walder.

Northampton B Foden; C Ashton, J Clarke, J Downey (B Reihana, 67), P Diggin; S Myler (S Geraghty, 55), L Dickson (S Commins, 67); S Tonga'uiha (A Waller, 57), D Hartley (B Sharman, 67), B Mujati (T Mercey, 64), C Lawes, C Day (M Sorenson, 64), P Dowson (C Clark, 62), T Wood, R Wilson.

London Wasps R Haughton; J Simpson, S Kefu (J Wallace, 21), R Flutey, D Lemi; D Walder (M van Gisbergen, 57), N Berry (J Lewsey, 70); T Payne (T French, 65), R Webber (T Lindsay, 58), Z Taulafo, S Shaw, R Birkett (J Cannon, 41), J Hart, J Worsley (S Betsen, 41), D Ward-Smith.

Referee D Richards (London).

Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss