Wasps boss Dai Young questioned some of the decisions made by referee David Rose after seeing his side’s Aviva Premiership play-off hopes dented by a dramatic 26-24 defeat to Northampton at a snowy Adams Park on Saturday.
Northampton’s rolling maul was a dominant force throughout and a penalty try, further scores from Lee Dickson and Dylan Hartley - plus four points from Stephen Myler’s boot - gave them a 19-16 half-time lead.
Wasps had twice been reduced to 14 men as Rhys Thomas and Tom Palmer went to the bin in the first half, but Tom Varndell’s try, two penalties and a conversion from Stephen Jones and a three-pointer from Elliot Daly kept them in it.
Centre Daly’s wonderful finish down the left, after another Jones penalty, had then briefly put them on course for a remarkable victory.
But Ashley Johnson became the third Wasps player to receive a yellow card for illegally stopping a Saints drive, and Christian Day made the pressure pay by getting the crucial fourth try at the death, with Myler’s conversion sealing the win.
Young admitted his side had no answer to Northampton’s renowned forward power, but felt his side had been harshly treated as they tried to hang on to their lead in the final 10 minutes.
“They were dominant up front, that was their one weapon,” he said.
“They did not try and play, or need to play, any other way. You will always struggle to win any game if you cannot stop a driving line-out.
“We were better in the second half, but in the last 10 minutes I felt penalties would come from somewhere to put us inside our own 22.
“I had issue with quite a few (of those penalties), the last three in particular, but it does not change anything.
“It’s no good me sitting here throwing stones at the referee. It doesn’t change anything.
“We just have to move on, but everyone in the stadium never felt we were going to be allowed out of our half (in the last 10 minutes).”
Young acknowledged his side had made life difficult for themselves by having three men binned, but felt Saints could also have lost a man on the occasions his side got their own driving line-out going.
“It is hard enough to play Northampton with 15 players. There will always be yellow cards five yards from your own line but we had three penalties for driving line-outs being pulled down and there were no yellow cards there for them.
“But, make no bones about it, you have to stop driving line-outs, we were unable to do it and it was a big telling factor.”