Wasps 24 Northampton 26: Day breaks hosts' hearts with last-gasp winner
17:54 GMT, 23 March 2013
20:11 GMT, 23 March 2013
Northampton 's pack dominated their Wasps counterparts to such an extent in this battle for the play-offs that three Wasps forwards were sent to the sin bin.
But it took Christian Day's finalplay try to steal victory. Stephen Myler still needed to land the simple conversion to confirm the win but Day's score – assisted by returning England star Dylan Hartley, who shoved his team-mate over the line – also earned a bonus point that could prove crucial.
Wasps, seconds away from a remarkable win considering they played with one man down for nearly half an hour and were crushed up front, now find themselves seven points adrift of fourth-placed Northampton.
Lee 'n' easy: Lee Dickinson scores the Saints' second try
Day's final score summed up a
physical clash between two teams featuring a host of players who either
lost for England last week in Cardiff or who are pushing hard for a
place in the June tour to Argentina.
Day's try resulted from a driving maul as the Wasps forwards spent much of the game going backwards and conceding penalties.
Saints would have been kicking themselves if they had lost, which they nearly did thanks to a second-half comeback from Wasps.
Losing director of rugby Dai Young
said: 'Fair play to Northampton, they had a real weapon in their maul
and they used it. It's hard to play against them with 15 men and even
harder with 14 for much of the game, especially when you don't get the
field position or the ball.
Heading for glory: Elliot Daly (right) of London Wasps scores his team's second try
'That said, having got our noses in
front, I take issue with the last three penalties awarded to them,
although I'm not saying Saints didn't deserve to win. The bottom line is
that if you can't stop a driving line out you'll struggle.'
Northampton director of rugby Jim
Mallinder was more relieved than happy, saying: 'If you have a weapon
like that, then you use it. We controlled the game but Wasps can score
'We gave away some penalties and almost threw it away. But we got a bonus point win and are now in a good position.'
Snow stopping me: George Pisi evades Daly's tackle
The portents were clear from as early
as the eighth minute, when referee David Rose awarded Saints a penalty
try and sent Thomas Rhys Thomas to the bin.
Eight minutes later, Lee Dickson
flopped over after another powerful maul. Wasps hit back through a
long-range Elliott Daly penalty and then a classic Tom Varndell try,
sprinting in from 50 yards to score his 12th of the season and his 72nd
Premiership try in total. Varndell is now only four behind record scorer
Snow joke: Daly lefty dejected after Saints stole the win at the death
A conversion and two penalties from
Stephen Jones meant the home side were only three points down at the
break, despite a Hartley try from yet another destructive maul.
This built into a five-point
advantage after another Jones penalty and a stunning finish from Daly in
the corner which will surely not go unnoticed by the England selectors.
But after Ashley Johnson received his
team's third yellow card, Day ended a period of sustained Northampton
pressure by snatching the game at the death.