Tom Vickers’ Wasps v Saints view and player ratings: Saints play to their strengths

TALISMAN - Dylan Hartley led the Saints to victory against Wasps (picture by Linda Dawson)

TALISMAN - Dylan Hartley led the Saints to victory against Wasps (picture by Linda Dawson)

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When Saints rumbled over for their fourth and most crucial try of the afternoon, one Wasps fan bemoaned the ‘one dimensional’ away side.

Christian Day’s effort made it four scores from four huge forward pushes for Northampton, who overpowered their hosts to claim a last-gasp 26-24 win.

And it’s fair to say the Adams Park faithful weren’t happy as the on-pitch action failed to warm their hearts.

Nobody in the home ranks liked them, or the way they played, but Saints, quite simply, didn’t care.

And why should they?

In any sport you do what you have to do to win. You play to your strengths and, with the greatest respect, to hell with the rest of them.

The home fans expecting Saints not to use their unstoppable maul, is like telling Tottenham and Wales not to give the ball to Gareth Bale. It just isn’t going to happen.

If the power game wins matches, then the power game it must be. And Saints play it better than most.

They know what they’re good at and they make no bones about using it. The maul was the most powerful of weapons on Saturday.

Okay, so a forward-dominated game may not have been what the home fans paid to see. They’re used to pace and panache, provided by their tricky backline.

But, with the exception of Tom Varndell and Elliot Daly scores, Saints snuffed out the silk merchants.

Wing wizard Christian Wade was overshadowed on a day when the big guns fired for Jim Mallinder’s men.

Dylan Hartley spearheaded the wave of driving mauls, with desire the buzzword in the well-drilled Saints pack.

As the skipper later pointed out, it was a day for the rugby purists, but in woeful windy conditions forward strength was always going to trump backline skill.

And the boos of discontent that rang around Adams Park at the final whistle will have been music to the Saints players’ cauliflower ears.

How they rated...

BEN FODEN

Put in a sensible display, but it was strange to see him beaten so easily by Elliot Daly, whose score looked to have won the game before Christian Day’s late try... 6

JAMES WILSON

Like Foden, was guilty of missing a crucial tackle as Tom Varndell went over for Wasps’ first of the game, but was accompished under the high ball... 6

GEORGE PISI

Put in some huge hits, most notably in the second half on little Christian Wade. Showed great desire on a difficult day for the backs... 7

DOM WALDOUCK

Was always committed on his return to his former club, but a couple of poor passes put team-mates in unneccessary trouble and cost them attacking impetus... 6

JAMIE ELLIOTT

Stood up well in the comparison with Wade. Two young wingers with bright futures, and the Saints player edged this one... 7

STEPHEN MYLER

Controlled the game well for Saints and made some clever offloads. Last-gasp conversion won the day for the away side... 7

LEE DICKSON

Continually cajoled the dominant pack and was in fine form until an injury forced him off during the second half... 8

SOANE TONGA’UIHA

Full of power and his past couple of performances suggest he is returning to the player he was a couple of years ago... 7

DYLAN HARTLEY - CHRON STAR MAN

The skipper was in irrepressible mood once again as he carried his team through maul after maul and even got his name on the scoresheet... 9

TOM MERCEY

Is making the tighthead spot his own, having put in a series of commanding displays, and this was no different... 7

COURTNEY LAWES

Put the England heartache behind him with a powerful display that Wasps found difficult to stop... 8

CHRISTIAN DAY

Was the hero late on as he grabbed the game’s most crucial try and dominated in the set piece all day long... 8

SAMU MANOA

Wasn’t the most eyecatching member of the Saints pack for a change, but was still hugely effective all round the field... 8

PHIL DOWSON

Was hungry for the battle and was a big influence in attack and defence, the highlight being his attempts to get to grips with the slippery, far smaller Wade... 7

GJ VAN VELZE

Looked secure throughout and had more than done his job when England star Tom Wood came on in his place... 7

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

BRIAN MUJATI (for Mercey 49)

Played his part in the late push for the winning try, but came on at a time when Wasps were starting to press... 6

TOM WOOD (for van Velze 49)

A great man to be able to bring on the bench and the adaptable back row carried well as Saints went in search of the win... 6

MARTIN ROBERTS (for Dickson 55)

Lee Dickson was a tough act to follow, but the Welshman did well enough to help his side to victory... 6