MATCH REPORT | Wasps 26-20 Saracens Men
Saracens Men left the Coventry Building Society Arena with disappointment after a tough 26-20 defeat to Wasps.
The Men in Black struggled to capitalise on their opportunities and it told as the hosts ground it out to come away with the win on a chilly afternoon in the Midlands.
Wasps enjoyed plenty of early ball and were rewarded with just three minutes played as Jimmy Gopperth kicked an easy penalty to put the hosts 3-0 ahead.
Sam Spink then scored a controversial try as Lee Blackett’s side continued their strong start. A high ball looked to have gone forward as Dan Robson gathered it, but it bounced up perfectly to Sam Spink who had a clear run to the line. Despite a check with the Television Match Official the try was given, and then Gopperth’s conversion put them 10 points in front.
Wasps continued to play on the front foot in the opening quarter but a couple of missed opportunities meant they failed to capitalise, and Sarries then looked for a chance to hit back.
They finally got some ball on the 20 minute mark and a strong carry from Nick Tompkins brought a penalty, which Alex Lozowski hammered through the posts to get the visitors on the board.
Wasps hit back straight away though as Sarries got caught not rolling away, and Gopperth was successful from the tee as their lead grew to 13-3.
Alex Lewington was then denied a stunning score after a check with the TMO. Manu Vunipola’s audacious chip in to space was gathered by Alex Goode, who then hacked ahead and the chasing Lewington got there but unfortunately the ball went forward in the process of grounding it.
The winger didn’t have to wait much longer as he crossed the line with 30 minutes played to get his side back in the game. Sustained pressure in the 22 eventually told, as Billy Vunipola carried all the way to the line and popped it up nicely to Lewington who dotted down. The conversion from the touchline went wide, but the deficit was now down to five points.
Nick Tompkins then broke the line of defence brilliantly as the visitors had the bit between their teeth, and from the recycled ball Manu Vunipola’s grubber was inches away from finding Rotimi Segun but the bounce was cruel.
Sarries then turned the screw and got level right on the stroke of half time as Tom Woolstencroft scored their second try. A penalty gave them a lineout just five metres from the line, and a well-drilled maul hammered over and the hooker was at the base to score. The conversion came back off the post, but after a nightmare start the North Londoners headed down the tunnel level at 13-13.
It was an edgy start to the second half as both sides looked to get back in the ascendancy, and it Wasps who struck first as Gopperth’s penalty sneaked them in to a 16-13 lead.
The hosts were eyeing up another chance to strike as a big carry from Josh Bassett took play near the line, and then a high tackle gave them a penalty deep in the 22. They continued to hammer away, but some excellent defence from Ben Earl and Billy Vunipola held them up and Sarries crucially got the ball back.
Unfortunately from that penalty a huge shove from the hosts got them a penalty, and Gopperth made no mistake as their lead grew to 19-13 with 25 minutes left to play.
Manu Vunipola then looked to use some free ball as Sarries looked for a response, he gathered his grubber with Lozowski on his shoulder but a dummy was read by the Wasps defence who held firm.
The pressure looked like it had told as Andy Christie bundled over from close range, but once again the TMO was called in to action and it was disallowed to add to the frustration of the visiting supporters.
Tompkins then once again raced right through the middle and his pass to Aled Davies looked to have created a certain try but admirably the Wasps defence raced back and then earned themselves a penalty at the breakdown.
All of those moments were starting to signal that it wasn’t Saracens’ day, and that was confirmed when Elliott Stooke put the result beyond doubt as he scored with just three minutes left.
Wasps were camped right on the try-line and they eventually scored after multiple phases as Stooke powered over the last man. Gopperth’s conversion extended their lead to 26-13.
Sarries did however salvage a losing bonus point as Nick Tompkins danced over in the last minute and Lozowski’s extras brought his side within seven, which is ultimately how a frustrating afternoon in Coventry ended.