Wasps lost another close game to Northampton Saints in their first match in front of fans since March 2020, but they earned a bonus point that keeps them in the Premiership top eight.
They remained close for most of the encounter, but fell short as they needed to go the length of the field at the end with the clock in the red.
Wasps may count themselves unlucky as several key decisions went against them in the last ten minutes, but equally the grey-and-golds had several chances to win it and weren’t efficient enough in Saint’s 22.
Here’s how our reporters rated the Wasps players…
15. Charlie Atkinson – 6
He was comfortable under the high ball but his fumble from James’ grubber was extremely costly, giving Saints seven points and a man advantage.
Yet he stepped into fly-half well for Umaga’s sin-bin period, including one excellent touchfinder when tight to the dead ball line. Also sent a monster kick to touch that led to Brad Shields’ try.
Wasps have a decent history of stand-in full-backs over the last two seasons and Atkinson’s showing he could be the latest player to join that club – if he can iron out some of those mistakes.
14. Zach Kibirige – 6.5
This was another case of what might’ve been for Kibirige, he’s now tryless in the last 15 games.
He had three chances here, including one where he actually did get to touch the ball down only to have it chalked off thanks to Umaga’s forward pass.
He defended Taqele Naiyaravoro pretty well – the Australian was most dangerous when he popped up in midfield – and made 68 metres in attack.
13. Paolo Odogwu – 7
Wasps only used Odogwu sparingly in attack, but he always made an impact, often getting half through the tackles to open an offload opportunity and nearly setting up Kibirige for a try.
He was strong defensively too, making two big tackles on his opposite number Matt Proctor, as he largely outshone the Kiwi.
Wasps, England and neutral fans will hope the injury that cut his afternoon short is only trivial.
12.Michael Le Bourgeois – 6
The Jerseyman led the defence in the backline, in the top four for Wasps tackles made, but didn’t have that same impact in attack.
He was used well in a nice move at the lineout to put Shields free and into Saints’ 22 and slipped a fantastically flat pass to give Odogwu a half-break – on first sight it looked as if the pass must’ve been intercepted – but Le Bourgeois had largely a playmakers role today.
11. Josh Bassett – 7
The winger couldn’t add to his tally of six tries at Franklin’s Gardens, but Bassett really gave his all. An ever-present threat from Wasps kickoffs, he had a few opportunities to score including two potential intercept tries, but it never quite came off.
He also had two epic footraces with Sleightholme that will live long in the memory of those lucky enough to be at the Gardens.
10. Jacob Umaga – 7
He remains tryless this season after scoring nine last campaign, but he worked well with outside backs to fashion several line breaks in an entertaining match.
Wasps made over 500 metres in total and Umaga was at the heart of that, although he overran his support line for the Kibirige try which proved costly at the end.
His yellow card wasn’t as damaging as it could’ve been and Umaga made all but one of his kicks, the miss was his drop-goal conversion attempt of Willis’ try that actually showed good game-management. It gave his side one last shot at victory.
9. Dan Robson – 8.5*
Robson’s duel with James was one of the highlights of the game, both looked to attack where possible and it was Robson who came away with his name in the try column.
He started and finished that score soundly, and nearly set Kibirige up for a go-ahead try too. He had good game-management too, and should’ve impressed the watching Eddie Jones. In this kind of form, he’s England’s best scrum-half.
1. Tom West – 7
This was West’s fifth-straight start, and he began the game very well as Wasps won a penalty from the monster first scrum. West won the penalty, although it was Biyi Alo who did much of the destruction, and his side of the scrum held up well throughout.
He was quieter away from scrum-time though, only played 11 minutes of the second half.
2. Gabriel Oghre – 7
The lineout was solid throughout Oghre’s time on the field, including a magnificent throw right on the money to Le Bourgeois – it was Oghre’s replacement Tom Cruse that made the costly throw at the end.
Played for over an hour and got through all his work in the loose too.
3. Biyi Alo – 6
Had his second consecutive start for Wasps but again didn’t make it to half time, clearly a tactic from Lee Blackett.
Had some big carries early on and won an early scrum penalty, although conceded two later in the half.
4. Will Rowlands – 7
This was Rowlands’ penultimate Premiership away trip, for the time being at least, and the Welshman clearly wants to finish on a high note.
He was a constant nuisance to the Saints’ lineout and made a crucial steal in the first half on his own five-metre line – if Wasps had conceded at that stage they could’ve capitulated.
But he wasn’t flawless, he missed the chance to put a queue of backs in for the score late on, and lost the ball for Wood’s decisive try.
5. James Gaskell – 6
The second row had the quietest game of the loose forwards, he missed three tackles but still contributed well before Cardall replaced him with 35 minutes to go.
He was caught napping as a ruck guard by James who made a big break off the back of it, and that was his last action of the match.
6. Brad Shields (c) – 8
Another who Eddie Jones might’ve had his eye on, Shields has been a standout player for Wasps this season.
They’ve been hit hard by injuries in the back-row and Shields’ 16 appearances in 2021 have been invaluable.
Yet again he was a star in close quarters, making ten tackles including a big hit on Fraser Dingwall and also driving over to score Wasps’ try while down to 14 men.
7. Thomas Young – 8
Young was used more selectively than Shields but always made an impact, bumping Sleightholme on one of his carries and making six tackles.
His work for the try is worth a point all on its own, he took the ball pretty statically but he cut a fantastic line to stand up Matavesi and make the initial break.
Once at Saints’ last line he showed incredible decision-making to change his angle in between the two defenders, and then the dexterity to offload to Robson made it a perfect try.
8. Tom Willis – 8
It was an industrious performance from Wasps’ number 8, he made a solid 44 metres and a crucial first-half turnover on his own five-metre line as Saints looked certain to score.
He also made the final few inches to score at the earth and earn Wasps that all-important losing bonus point, although he spilled the ball on Wasps’ first attack as they seemed to have opened Saints up.
16. Tommy Cruse (for Oghre, 63’)
17. Simon McIntyre (for West, 61’)
18. Jeff Toomaga-Allen (for Alo, 35’)
19. Tim Cardall (for Gaskell, 43’)
20. Sione Vailanu (for Young, 73’)
21. Ben Vellacott (for Robson, 77’)
22. Jimmy Gopperth (for Odogwu, 54’)
23. Rob Miller (for Kibirige, 77’)
Wasps’ front-row replacements had a mixed bag of performances – Jeff Toomaga-Allen (5.5) had the most gametime and really suffered in his first two scrums, although recovered after that.
Tom Cruse (5.5) lost a key lineout in the few minutes that effectively ended Wasps’ chances of a win, but it was good to see him return after three months out. Simon McIntyre (6) was used the most and made good metres with ball in hand, although it was his carry that ended the game.
Tim Cardall (6.5) and Sione Vailanu both looked to be precautionary to cover injuries whilst Jimmy Gopperth (6) was the only backs replacement to get any meaningful gametime – probably more than Blackett expected thanks to Odogwu’s injury.
Ben Vellacott and Rob Miller only appeared with less than five minutes to go.