Northampton 32 Wasps 15: Ben Foden scores twice

Northampton 32 Wasps 15: Foden at the double to pile pressure on Young

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UPDATED:

21:08 GMT, 24 March 2012

Chris Ashton began the build-up to his swansong appearance for Saints with a performance as uninspiring as his abject RBS Six Nations performances for England.

He rarely threatened to add to the 90 tries he has scored in 107 appearances since joining from Wigan as Wasps smothered his
movement and competed well for long periods thanks to Nicky Robinson’s immaculate kicking.

At the double: Foden (right) scored twice

At the double: Foden (right) scored twice

As with England, Ashton was starved
of ball and seriously lacking in penetration to jusitfy coach Jim
Mallinder’s decision to discard the England man for the Heineken Cup
match against Munster.

Early pressure from Wasps left Ashton as subdued in the early stages as he had been so often for England in the Six Nations.

Clearly troubled by his absence from
the team for all but two occasions since early December, Ashton looked
short of form and confidence for most of the match.

Back in action: Phil Dowson (right) and his fellow internationals returned

Back in action: Phil Dowson (right) and his fellow internationals returned

He exhibited none of Ben Foden’s
electrifying running and zest for involvement before raising his game
briefly to play a part in Saints’ third try just before the break.

Producing the elusive running
technique of old, Ashton, Lee Dickson, and Foden shared a sharp exchange
of passes for the full-back to accelerate free of Wasps’ struggling
defence for a try that enabled Saints to build a 22-9 half-time lead.

Earlier, Foden had pounced for an opening try before James Downey added a second try from Dickson’s assist.

Ryan Lamb should have completed a
second conversion but for the second time he missed a simple kick, as
his opposite number Nicky Robinson continued to keep Wasps in touch with
three first-half penalties and a fourth just after the interval.

Bonus point: Martin Roberts (centre) celebrates his try

Bonus point: Martin Roberts (centre) celebrates his try

The sin-binning of Andy Long and Ben
Broster did nothing to please a full house clearly dismayed by long
periods of inept play by both sides, with Saints showing little of the
form that has led to five wins in their last seven Aviva Premiership
matches.

The erratic Lamb was replaced after kicking a second penalty and his replacement, Stephen Myler, received a huge ovation.

Robinson managed to shrink the points
gap before he was sin-binned but a fourth, bonus-point try by Saints
replacement Roberts completed the rout to leave them riding high in the
top four.