Northampton Saints 11 Wasps 24: Tom Vickers’ review and player ratings

Alex Waller shows his disappointment during Saints' defeat to Wasps (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)
Alex Waller shows his disappointment during Saints' defeat to Wasps (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

On the day Saints announced their season ticket prices for next season, many supporters were probably left wondering whether they could get a refund on their current one.

Because another Franklin’s Gardens game had come and gone without the home team showing anything like the sort of form they are capable of.

In fact, what last season’s Aviva Premiership table-toppers produced was one of their worst performances in recent years.

The first 30 minutes were nothing short of shambolic as Wasps waltzed through the home defence three times.

Their first score, from scrum-half Dan Robson, was a shock, because Saints had not conceded a try in their past four games at the Gardens.

And only one man, Scarlets No.9 Gareth Davies, had dotted down in Northampton all season.

Wasps celebrated three tries at the Gardens

Wasps celebrated three tries at the Gardens

But after Robson’s effort, you knew more misery was coming, with Saints so lacklustre that after the third try had been conceded, director of rugby Jim Mallinder left his seat in the stands to head pitchside.

He frantically tried to get something out of his side, like a paramedic performing CPR.

But the lifeless display continued and hope drained away.

Only a Sam Dickinson try in the final 10 minutes provided any reason for supporters to get up off their seats.

Rob Miller raced away to set up Josh Bassett for Wasps' third try

Rob Miller raced away to set up Josh Bassett for Wasps' third try

But some had already done that, opting to exit the Gardens with plenty of time to spare.

And who could blame them?

Because yet again, the Saints they know had failed to turn up.

There was no invention, no spark and, generally, no idea how to get back into the game.

Jim Mallinder headed to the touchline to cajole his players

Jim Mallinder headed to the touchline to cajole his players

Saints were bettered at the breakdown, with the absence of Calum Clark, last season’s players’ and supporters’ player of the year, so evident.

And the kicking game, as has so often been the case, simply didn’t function.

It was all so stagnant, and the poor performance and result was accentuated by the quality of the team they were up against.

Wasps have been superb in patches this season, but so many of their key men were missing.

It would not necessarily be acceptable, but it would be at least understandable if Saints had been undone by the fleet-footed Christian Wade or the step-ahead Joe Simpson.

But they weren’t.

Sam Dickinson scored a late try for Saints

Sam Dickinson scored a late try for Saints

Wasps’ team was largely made up of players who wouldn’t start were Wade, Simpson, James Haskell, Joe Launchbury and many more available.

And their boss, Dai Young, almost cut a figure of disbelief in the press room after the game, admitting he couldn’t be happier.

No wonder, as his far from full strength side had ended a horror run stretching back to November 2005.

That was the last time Wasps had won at the Gardens, and they had conceded a total of 126 points on their previous two Premiership visits to the ground.

But this is a different Wasps team, with a different mentality.

And the same can be said for Saints.

They have simply not got going at home this season and those who haven’t seen some of their more inventive moments on the road - at the likes of Glasgow and Scarlets - will be left with a picture as bleak as the current weather.

But they must now just hope that things can turn around.

There are plenty of Premiership games to go, plenty of chances to right this wrong.

But for now, those season tickets will be selling as quickly as bottled water in a bar full of alcoholics.

How they rated...

HARRY MALLINDER

Had scored two tries in as many weeks going into this game and he gave it his all, but it was a tough lesson for the team’s young players... 5

JAMIE ELLIOTT

Did his best to inject some running rugby into the team on a couple of occasions, but he couldn’t hold onto the ball just before Wasps scored their second... 5

GEORGE PISI

Put in a strong display at Scarlets, but was unable to back it up as he put in a lethargic showing... 5

LUTHER BURRELL

Did his best to get in the game, making some strong carries and trying to take it to Wasps, but his passing wasn’t the best and the damage had been done... 5

TOM COLLINS

Was desperate to get back in action after sustaining a blow to the head against Glasgow, but he might be wishing he’d sat this one out now... 5

STEPHEN MYLER

Landed a couple of penalties, but couldn’t get a grip of the game as the Saints half-backs really struggled to assert any authority... 5

TOM KESSELL

So impressive at Scarlets six days earlier, this was a really tough night for the scrum-half, whose box-kicking left a lot to be desired and who missed a couple of key tackles... 4

ALEX WALLER

Couldn’t get his usual dominance in the scrum as Wasps more than matched Saints up front and bettered them in every area... 5

MIKE HAYWOOD

Can never be accused of not showing desire, but this was a really tough night in the set piece for the hooker... 5

KIERAN BROOKES

Not the return he was hoping for as his first game since December 19 ended in disappointing fashion... 5

MICHAEL PATERSON

Usually a decent performer for Saints, but he wasn’t able to steady the ship on a rocky night at the Gardens... 5

VICTOR MATFIELD

Had been given a couple of weeks off prior to this, but he didn’t show any freshness and had little influence... 4

TOM WOOD

This man is usually capable of helping Saints turn the tide, but he was unable to have a big impact on this game... 5

TEIMANA HARRISON

Struggled with his handling on a couple of occasions and despite showing some desire, he couldn’t get Saints back in the game... 5

SAM DICKINSON

Managed to get his name on the scoresheet in the second half and did provide a couple of good moments, but he was another man guilty of missing a key tackle... 5

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

LEE DICKSON (for Kessell 45)

The club captain has struggled for form this season and this was a difficult situation to come into... 5

ETHAN WALLER (for A Waller 50)

Saints were already on their way to defeat when this man entered the field, but he tried to help them restore some pride... 6

JAMES CRAIG (for Paterson 52)

The beanpole lock hadn’t played for a while, but he showed desire and fighting spirit after coming off the bench... 6

CHRISTIAN DAY (for Matfield 52)

Saints always miss this man when he doesn’t start and he add least added a bit more assurance in the set piece... 6

CHRON STAR MAN - ROB MILLER (Wasps)