Saracens 13 Wasps 12: Horror tackle may end Dawson's career early

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The Independent Online

Only a few weeks ago Saracens were languishing one place off the bottom of the Guinness Premiership - this morning they are a heady step or two away from possible qualification for next season's Heineken Cup.

The common denominator is Eddie Jones, the former Wallabies coach who joined the club on a temporary basis last month in the role of consultant coach.

Last week another Australian, Alan Gaffney, took up the reins of director of rugby and he witnessed first-hand this spirited display against Wasps, which left the head coach, Mike Ford, saying something he had not expected to say at this stage of the season: "Europe is in our sights."

This was their fourth Premiership win on the trot and their hardest earned. It was fractious, feisty, but above all entertaining. The blindside flanker Kris Chesney played like a man inspired for the home team, whether scavenging on the deck, taking the ball up or putting his body on the line in defence.

The home supporters were out of their seats for most of the game either cheering another Saracens attack, invariably sparked by the Frenchman Thomas Castaignède, or yelling encouragement as the Men in Black went on the defensive. But both sides lacked a finishing edge. A number ofchances for Saracens in the second half ended just short of the Wasps try-line by knuckleheaded knock-ons and the like.

There were one or two incidents which may have repercussions. Wasps were unhappy when Matt Dawson, who is to retire at the end of the season, was hit late by the Saracens openside Taine Randell. The former England scrum-half was left writhing on the ground and when he left Vicarage Road in a surgical boot and on crutches there was a feeling that his career had ended even earlier than he had planned. Whether there will be a citing is another matter. The chances are that Saracens might counter with one of their own after a scuffle between Wasps' captain, Lawrence Dallaglio, and the Saracens stand-off Glen Jackson.

"If they want to cite me for that then the game really has gone soft," Dallaglio said.

While the scuffle, which ended with Dallaglio appearing to cuff the New Zealander with his open hand, was taking place Saracens were in the final stages of the build-up for the game's only try. That came after a ruck when Castaignède danced through a forest of players to score his fourth try of the season.

Dallaglio had a thought or two about that as well. "Castaignède ran across and behind one of his team-mates which stopped us from making the tackle."

Saracens: Try Castaignède; Conversion Jackson; Penalties Jackson 2.

Wasps: Penalties Van Gisbergen 4.

Saracens: M Bartholomeusz; T Castaignède, B Johnston (D Harris, 50), K Sorrell, T Vaikona; G Jackson, K Bracken (M Rauluni, 50); K Yates, S Byrne (M Cairns, 75), C Visagie, S Raiwalui, T Ryder, K Chesney, T Randell, H Vyvyan.

Wasps: M van Gisbergen; P Sackey, J Lewsey (A Erinle, 73), S Abbott, T Voyce; A King (J Staunton, 74), M Dawson (E Reddan, 33); T Payne, J Ward (R Ibanez, 76), P Bracken (A McKenzie, 70), D Leo, R Birkett, J Haskell, J Worsley, L Dallaglio.

Referee: M Fox (Leicestershire).

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