Wasps dig in but Saracens too strong

The European champions proved too strong for Dai Young’s depleted side at Allianz Park. 

38 - 19
Saracens Wasps

Sun 8th October 2017
3:00 pm

Allianz Park Stadium Aviva Premiership As it happened
Despite a poor opening 15 minutes, Wasps put in a spirited display in scoring three tries, one of them to Jack Willis who was making his first Premiership start. 12-0 down after only twelve minutes, they appeared to be facing a long afternoon, but they clawed it back to 18-7 at the half way stage and went down fighting, able to leave the field with their heads held high.

After early Wasps’ possession, Saracens enjoyed the first slice of luck when Wasps' clearance kick from just outside their 22 went dead at the other end. Wasps then won a penalty at the resultant scrum.

With six minutes played, Alex Lozowski showed his attacking threat, when he darted through a gap to make more than 50 metres before being forced into touch near the right corner. Saracens stole the lineout and the ball was moved quickly out wide, where Alex Goode joined the line to send a chip over the defence. Willie Le Roux had to turn to chase and Chris Wyles beat him to the touchdown just before the ball went dead, to open the scoring. Alex Lozowski missed the conversion from near the left corner.

Moments later, Juan Figallo’s charge took him into the Wasps 22 and resulted in a Saracens penalty. Before the Wasps defence could organise itself, Chris Wyles took it quickly and Jamie George took the ball at speed to race over between the posts. Alex Lozowski’s conversion took the lead to 12-0 after 12 minutes.

A bulldozing driving maul then took the home side 50 metres upfield, before a Wasps’ knock-on  gave them an attacking scrum. They moved the ball out to the right and Elliot Daly was involved in a heavy tackle which saw him leave the field for an HIA, with Juan de Jongh taking his place. Play resumed with a Saracens penalty and Lozowski’s kick added another three points.

Almost from the restart, Marcelo Bosch drifted through the Wasps defence, taking play up to the 22. He found George Kruis in support but Thomas Young got back to pull off a try-saving turnover. The defence was again stretched when Juan Figallo and Mako Vunipola charged through the middle and it took a fine tackle by Marcus Garratt and Ashley Johnson to force a knock-on just short of the line. 

Wasps finally broke out of their own 22 when Saracens spit the ball, a few metres out. Willie Le Roux gathered and Brendan Macken’s neat flick found Josh Bassett, who accelerated away down the left. He crossed halfway before chipping ahead and the covering Alex Goode could only play the ball into touch, a few metres from the corner. Wasps won the lineout and a powerful drive ended with Marty Moore touching down for a much-needed try. Rob Miller added the conversion with a fine kick from near the touchline.

After Alex Lozowski’s restart went out on the full, Wasps were given a further boost when Elliot Daly returned to the field having passed his HIA. They put together several minutes of controlled possession but were unable  to create any scoring opportunities. It was the home side who landed the next points, when Lozowski kicked his second penalty six minutes before halftime, following a breakdown offence just outside the 22. 

Wasps had a late chance to put the Saracens defence under pressure when Jack Willis won a lineout  just inside the 22. The drive made several metres before he broke off and made a charge for the line, only for Wasps players to be penalised for crossing. Half-time came with the score still at 18-7, after a gutsy display by the Men in Black and Gold.

Saracens stretched the lead to 14 points with another Lozowski penalty two minutes into the second half, following an offence at the breakdown.  A further penalty came five minutes later, after Liam Williams came off his wing to burst through the middle following a lineout on the right. Lozowski landed another straightforward kick.

Wasps were now leaking breakdown penalties, with the next coming ten metres inside their half. Alex Lozowski kicked to the corner and an unstoppable lineout drive ended with Jamie George going over for his second try of the afternoon. Lozowski’s conversion took the lead to 31-7.

After 54 minutes, Wasps made their first batch of substitutions with Tom Cruse and Jake Cooper-Woolley coming into the front row and Joe Simpson making way for Dan Robson. Nine minutes later, further changes brought Ben Harris and James Gaskell into the front five. The changes could do little to stop Saracens’ increasing forward dominance and a scrum penalty was again kicked to the corner. In a near carbon copy of their third try, the drive powered its way over, with Jamie George claiming his hat-trick and with it the bonus point. Lozowski produced another excellent kick, to stretch the lead to 38-7.

Wasps responded  in fine style, after James Gaskell won a lineout near the left corner. Jack Willis did well to gather and stretch out for a well-deserved maiden try, which Rob Miller converted.

With the bench cleared and only pride to play for, Wasps showed no shortage of fighting spirit and replacement Tom Willis, on his Premiership debut, was at the heart of a thrilling counterattack which ended with Josh Bassett going over near the left corner. With Rob Miller about to take the conversion, the referee consulted the TMO and the score was ruled out for a forward pass.

Wasps had one last chance of a consolation score with a five-metre scrum. Thomas Young made a powerful surge for the line, Dan Robson threw a long pass out to the left and Josh Bassett went over for a deserved try to make up for the disappointment of having his previous score ruled out. 

The final whistle blew with Saracens 38-19 winners and Wasps now have only four days to rest, recuperate and prepare for Friday night’s opening Champions Cup match, against Ulster in Belfast. 

Saracens Line ups

  1. Mako Vunipola
  2. Jamie George
  3. Juan Figallo
  4. Nick Isiekwe
  5. George Kruis
  6. Maro Itoje
  7. Calum Clark
  8. Jackson Wray
  9. Richard Wigglesworth
  10. Alex Lozowski
  11. Chris Wyles
  12. Bradley Barritt
  13. Marcelo Bosch
  14. Liam Williams
  15. Alex Goode
  16. Christopher Tolofua
  17. Hayden Thompson-Stringer
  18. Vincent Koch
  19. Dom Day
  20. Joel Conlon
  21. Ben Spencer
  22. Max Malins
  23. Duncan Taylor

Wasps Line ups

  1. Matt Mullan
  2. Ashley Johnson
  3. Martin Moore
  4. Marcus Garratt
  5. Will Rowlands
  6. James Haskell
  7. Jack Willis
  8. Thomas Young
  9. Joe Simpson
  10. Rob Miller
  11. Josh Bassett
  12. Brendan Macken
  13. Elliot Daly
  14. Marcus Watson
  15. Willie Le Roux
  16. Tom Cruse
  17. Ben Harris
  18. Jake Cooper-Woolley
  19. James Gaskell
  20. Tom Willis
  21. Dan Robson
  22. Juan de Jongh
  23. Christian Wade