Shaw to the fore as Wasps state case for title defence

Wasps 31 Northampton 5

Northampton could easily find themselves back at the Causeway Stadium next month for a Premiership semi-final against the reigning champions, a prospect they must view with the kind of enthusiasm the Prime Minister reserves for late-night votes on variable top-up fees. Wayne Smith, the Midlanders' coach, knows a thing or two about this game - he is, after all, about to embark on a second tour of duty at the sharp end of the All Blacks operation - but he was genuinely startled by the extent of Wasps' supremacy yesterday.

Smith singled out Simon Shaw, the Londoners' answer to Roald Dahl's Big Friendly Giant. "He hurt us in the wide channels, and hurt us badly," he admitted. It was the first of a series of tributes to Shaw's performance in the second row, the most striking of which came from Lawrence Dallaglio, who ignored the diplomatic niceties associated with the England captaincy and effectively demanded his colleague's presence on the summer trip to New Zealand and Australia.

Asked to comment on the issue from a Wasps perspective, as opposed to an England one, Dallaglio chose to do it his way. "It's a mystery to a lot of people," he said, quite obviously referring to Shaw's absence from the Test side. "He'd be in anyone's Premiership team, I know that much. He brings a hard edge to our game and has footballing skills most players in his position cannot match. We have a mighty tough tour coming up, and we'll need some mighty tough people. To my mind, you don't need to look much further than Simon."

Strong words indeed, and brave ones too, but they at least saved Dallaglio the trouble of e-mailing his views to Clive Woodward and Andy Robinson, the coaches primarily responsible for rejecting Shaw's claim to red rose preferment. On this evidence, there is more chance of Northampton winning here on the weekend of 15 May - if, indeed, they recover from this battering sufficiently to make the play-offs - than of Shaw being left off the flight to Auckland in June.

Shaw was not alone in running Northampton ragged; Mark van Gisbergen, Fraser Waters and Tom Voyce made a mess of the visitors in open field, while Trevor Leota, Joe Worsley and Dallaglio himself clocked up many a mile on the ball-carrying front. But the out-sized lock bounced off so many tacklers, turned over so much opposition ball and flicked so many damaging passes out of contact that a Martian would have recognised the quality of his contribution.

Northampton defended their line for 28 one-way minutes in the first half, thanks largely to the self-sacrifice of their resident workhorse, Matt Lord. Then, the barricade crumbled. Shaw handled twice at the start of the move, driving hard down the left to create an attacking platform in the "red zone", to use the common parlance. From there the ball was spun right and when Worsley found himself confronted only by the lightweight Shane Drahm he finished the move with barely a second thought.

Sixteen points ahead at the interval, Wasps killed the game within four minutes of the restart. Shaw was prominent once more at the line-out and in the loose, and as a result Will Green claimed a rare tighthead's try. An exchange of scores in the final quarter - Bruce Reihana for Northampton, Voyce for the home team - may not have amounted to much, but Wasps' performance certainly did.

Wasps: Tries Worsley, Green, Voyce. Conversions Van Gisbergen 2. Penalties Van Gisbergen 4. Northampton: Try Reihana.

Wasps: M Van Gisbergen; J Lewsey, F Waters (A Erinle 76), S Abbott (M Denney 76), T Voyce; A King, R Howley (H Biljon 80); C Dowd, T Leota (B Gotting 76), W Green (T Payne 65), S Shaw, R Birkett (G Skivington 76), J Worsley, P Volley (M Lock 78), L Dallaglio (capt).

Northampton: B Reihana; N Beal, C Hyndman (J Brooks 67), J Leslie (capt, M Dawson 47), O Ripol; S Drahm, M Robinson; T Smith (C Budgen 75), D Richmond (S Thompson 47), T Taumoepeau (R Morris 47), M Lord, M Connors (J Phillips 75), A Blowers, D Fox, M Soden (G Seely 50).

Referee: A Spreadbury (Somerset)

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all