Wasps rely on Rees

Wasps 18

Northampton 13

Wasps will find no harder nuts to crack as they make their way into the new year keeping alive their hopes of winning the league. A barely-fancied Northampton side displayed the solid rugby virtues of commitment and adventure only to lose in heroic style to the even stauncher virtues of a dead-eyed place-kicker. Six penalties from the faultless boot of the Canadian full-back, Gareth Rees, just about justified Wasps' winning bonus - but not by much.

For virtually every minute, Northampton made them fight, scoring the only try of the game. Paul Grayson, the usually reliable Saints outside- half, converted the try and kicked a couple of penalties, but he missed two drop-goal attempts and four penalties.

Northampton were dogged, their pack knocking Wasps backwards in the loose, and the back row invariably first to the breakdown. What to do with the ball when they got it was slightly more of a problem, with Wasps' tough back division producing last-ditch defence, not least Va'aiga Tuigamala, who showed on his wing how to knock a man metres back in the tackle.

The visitors simply persevered, winning loose balls relentlessly and battering forward when the backs hit a brick wall. The Saints' try came in this unglamorous, if effective, fashion. After a series of rucks near the Wasps line, Grayson tried to shuffle through and moved the ball wide when the way was blocked, then, after further rucks, Jason Chandler, the Saints' second row, was powered over.

But with Grayson failing to take all his kicking chances, the one-try margin never seemed likely to be enough. As Rees succeeded, sure enough it was whittled away, with Northampton never quite able to make the final crucial break a second time.

Northampton's director of rugby, Ian McGeechan, admitted: "It's quite simple - we didn't kick the goals. We won the rugby match but we lost the score. It's a hard lesson and we've just got to keep at it."

Despite the tension about the outcome, it was actually rather a limp occasion. No doubt Loftus Road has all the facilities, with its clear sight-lines and acres of seats. But the familiar, warm rugby atmosphere is not there. If Wasps and Harlequins cannot fill Loftus Road in a week's time, there may be questions about whether big football stadiums are the way forward.

Wasps: G Rees; S Roiser, N Greenstock, A James, V Tuigamala; A King, A Gomarsall; M Griffiths (D Molloy, 62), S Mitchell, W Green, D Cronin (R Kinsey, 62), A Reed, L Dallaglio (capt), C Sheasby, M White.

Northampton: N Beal; I Hunter, M Allen, R McNaughten, H Thorneycroft; P Grayson, D Malone; M Volland, A Clarke, G Walsh, J Chandler, J Phillips, S Tatapu, T Rodber (capt, J Cassell, 86), B Poutney.

Referee: A Rowden (RFU).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key Stage 1

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee