Tom Vickers’ Wasps v Saints view and player ratings

POWER PLAY - Calum Clark was the pick of the Saints players at Wasps on Saturday (Pictures: Linda Dawson)
POWER PLAY - Calum Clark was the pick of the Saints players at Wasps on Saturday (Pictures: Linda Dawson)

In truth, it was a game only a forwards coach could truly enjoy.

Plenty of scrummaging, plenty of mauling and not much else.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

In fact, the medical team’s main job was to make sure the wingers hadn’t fallen asleep during the lengthy spells at the set piece.

Dorian West wouldn’t have minded one bit.

But for Saints it was another vital victory in their quest to be top of the Premiership shop come the end of the season.

Saracens’ crushing six-try success against Leicester means the men from Allianz Park are still the team to catch.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

They have lost just once this season, and that was the demolition job Saints did on them at Franklin’s Gardens at the end of October.

That may have been the last truly spectacular performance Saints put on in the Premiership, but, thankfully for Jim Mallinder’s men, it wasn’t the last time they won.

They have picked up three successive victories since then, none of them particularly pretty.

They have scrapped, shoved and eventually outgunned the opposition, which has comprised of Newcastle, Worcester and Wasps.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Saturday’s win, secured by Stephen Myler’s ice cool kick in blustery, wet conditions at Adams Park was, perhaps, the sweetest of them all.

The scrum penalty going Northampton’s way in the final seconds may have been the rugby gods’ way of evening out what happened at Gloucester back in September.

On that occasion, the Cherry and Whites were the ones celebrating a final kick success.

This time, it was Northampton, who still only have that Kingsholm reverse in the games lost column in the league this season.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

The ability to keep going to the last showed just how much character is in this Saints squad this season.

And when you add it to what happened a week earlier in Dublin, when Saints survived a late Leinster onslaught to land the final blow through Jamie Elliott’s try, it is a hugely impressive result.

So often teams can suffer a European hangover.

They can hit their nadir just a week after reaching their apex.

But Mallinder’s men are made of sterner stuff than that these days.

There was no repeat of what happened last year, when they won in Belfast only to suffer a tame defeat to Harlequins a week later.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

No, this wasn’t a performance on par with what we witnessed at the Aviva Stadium. But the outcome was the same,

By hook or by crook, Saints are finding ways to win games.

Whether it be through the power of their forwards or the precision of Myler’s boot, they get the job done.

They even had to contend with some contentious officiating on this occasion, as the TMO and referee Matthew Carley did not have the best of days.

But even that couldn’t stop Saints.

And although they are not No.1 at Christmas, the men from Northampton are not far off.

How they rated...


Wasn’t threatened too much and did what he had to do in an accomplished manner. A good eight days for the Samoan... 6


Had nothing like the involvement of a week earlier as the Saints backs were starved of the ball, with the forwards doing the hard yards... 6


Like Elliott, was unable to put in the sort of immense performance of a week earlier as he barely saw the ball... 6


Had an early try ruled out unfairly, but went on to put in another steady midfield performance... 6


Did what he could to get involved, but this was not a day for the wingers and the youngster just made sure he produced an efficient performance... 6


Was hailed as the ‘Iceman’ by fans and team-mates on social networking sites after the game as he kept his nerve to win it for Saints... 7


His box-kicking puts Saints in some good positions and he is getting better and better as the season goes on... 7


Did his job in the scrum, ensuring Wasps weren’t given any sort of chance to build a platform, and stood up in defence... 7


Not the easiest of afternoons for the young hooker, but he once again showed trademark aggression to make some good carries... 6


The big Australian did what he had to do and was part of a physical Saints effort that ensured Wasps were unable to break through... 6


Was man of the match at Leinster a week earlier and produced another good defensive performance here... 7


Drives the team on and did so in the form of a first-half try, which eventually proved crucial... 7


Is a key man at the breakdown for Saints and he stopped Wasps getting any momentum as he continued to break up their moves... 7


Had been impressive until receiving a late yellow card that was not a clear call for the TMO. Didn’t cost his team in the end, though... 6


Did his job in the lineout, but was a little less steady under one high ball early on. Not as imposing as in the early weeks of the season, but still a steady performer... 6

Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)

DYLAN HARTLEY (for Haywood 57)

The captain’s experience was needed during the second half as Wasps got in the ascendancy and started to pressure the Saints defence... 6

TOM MERCEY (for Ma’afu 57)

Helped keep Wasps as bay and maintained Saints’ edge at the scrum, where Wasps had no joy at all... 6