Wilson at the double as Saints swat Wasps to go top of Premiership

DARTING OVER - James Wilson scores his first try against Wasps (Pictures: Linda Dawson)
DARTING OVER - James Wilson scores his first try against Wasps (Pictures: Linda Dawson)

James Wilson stole the show as Saints soared to the top of the Aviva Premiership table with a 24-6 win against Wasps.

Kiwi Wilson, a summer recruit from Bourgoin, snaffled two tries and fly-half Stephen Myler added 14 points.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Wasps, winless on the road in the Premiership since October 28 last year, were unable to combat the prowess of their hosts as they could only reply through two Nicky Robinson penalties.

It meant Saints sealed their fifth win in as many games at the start of this season, their best ever opening to a campaign.

And they had Wilson to thank as he showed there is life without England star Ben Foden at Franklin’s Gardens.

Foden suffered an ankle injury at Bath two weeks previous, thrusting Wilson into the limelight at full-back against Worcester a week later.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

And if he impressed in that showing, a 37-31 win for Saints, he was even better against Wasps, with a display as bright as his fluorescent orange boots.

Wilson made his second Saints start at 15, with boss Jim Mallinder opting to make just two changes to the side that saw off the Warriors last Saturday.

Tom Wood was in for the rested Phil Dowson and former Wasps centre Dom Waldouck made his first appearance against his former club, replacing injury victim George Pisi.

In the absence of George, it was his brother Ken who lit up the Gardens inside the first five minutes, darting through a wide open Wasps line and handing Wilson his first Saints score.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Myler failed to add the extras and he was again wayward with the boot moments later as he fluffed a penalty shot in front of the posts.

But the fly-half soon had another chance to kick-start his night and it proved to be third time lucky as he slotted a three-pointer from long range.

It was penalties galore early on and Wasps had their first chance to get on the scoreboard on 14 minutes, Robinson reducing the deficit to five points with a sweetly struck effort.

The away side were starting to get a foothold in the game and they gave Robinson another chance to add to the tally after Saints infringed five metres from their own line.

Pictures by Linda Dawson

Pictures by Linda Dawson

The No.10 again hit the target and Mallinder’s men, big favourites for victory having won five successive league games against Wasps, weren’t having it all their own way.

However, they were getting some change out of the opposition defence in terms of penalties and Myler was accurate to take the score to 11-6 after 27 minutes.

Wasps were suddenly struggling and Samu Manoa was starting show his skill as well as his steel as he danced through the midfield before being held up.

Saints couldn’t get through the final layers of defence, but referee Dave Pearson did hand them another penalty chance, one which Myler again delivered three points from.

Wasps were still threatening to sting, though, with pocket dynamo Christian Wade buzzing around and almost breaking through after an impudent chip.

That was the beauty of the men in blue, but the beast was soon to rear its ugly head as prop Tim Payne was sent to the sin bin for performing a knee drop on Vasily Artemyev.

Payne, celebrating his 250th appearance for Wasps, was lucky to escape a straight red and his side also escaped further damage as Myler’s mixed night continued with another miss from the tee.

Saints immediately set about making their man advantage pay after the break and their pressure looked set to pay off as Wilson got free on the left. But he tried to offload to Artemyev when it looked easier to score and the chance was lost.

Payne then returned, seconds after Brian Mujati had replaced Paul Doran-Jones in the home ranks, to bring Wasps back up to full strength.

Still Saints knocked at the door, though, and the inevitable happened on 56 minutes as Wilson showed his agility to score his second of the night.

Myler successfully added the extras and then added a penalty with 10 minutes to go to make it 24-6.

There seemed to be no way back for Wasps and so it proved as Saints closed out the victory to move to the top of the table for one night at least.

Saints: Wilson; K Pisi, Waldouck, Burrell (May 60), Artemyev; Myler, Dickson (Roberts 67); Tonga’uiha (Waller 73), Hartley (Haywood 60), Doran-Jones (Mujati 49), Manoa, Day (Sorenson 54), Lawes (Dowson 60), Wood, Oakley.

Replacements: Lamb

Wasps: T Bell; Wade, Masi, C Bell, Bailey (Daly 17); Robinson (L Thomas 71), Simpson (Davies 68); Payne (McIntyre 57), Lindsay (R Thomas 61), Taulafo (Staibano 64), Palmer, Wentzel (Cannon 70), Launchbury, Haskell, Vunipola (Sam Jones 64).

Referee: Dave Pearson

Attendance: 12,955