Wasps 14 Northampton Saints 15: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

Christmas may be edging ever closer, but Saints and Wasps certainly won't be putting this game on DVD to sell in their respective club shops.

Monday, 5th November 2018, 12:29 am
Updated Monday, 5th November 2018, 4:37 pm
Mitch Eadie scored a last-gasp winner as Saints beat Wasps at the Ricoh Arena (pictures: Sharon Lucey)

It was an 80 minutes that felt like it would go on until the big day in December, but in the end, it lasted just the right amount of time for Saints to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.And while it was not a match that will live long in the memory for most, it certainly will for the five young debutants in Northampton colours.It is often said that players learn more from defeats than from victory, but that might not be the case for those making their Saints bow.Because they learned the vital lesson that if you keep going, even after the clock has struck 80, you can get your rewards.It was to be a more experienced man who popped up with the crucial try as No.8 Mitch Eadie made his mark under the posts late on.James Grayson slotted the conversion to make sure of a smash-and-grab success that came after Wasps had blown a 14-0 lead.In truth, they should not have been allowed to develop such an advantage as Saints spurned several good positions during the opening 14 minutes of the match.But after Marcus Watson's score from a slick team move broke the deadlock, Wasps grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.They turned the tables on Saints, dominating possession and territory, using their scrum as a real weapon.And when they added a second score early in the second half, it looked like the match might be won, such was the shortage of quality on show from both sides.But the introduction of juggernaut wing Taqele Naiyaravoro, who was only involved in the squad because of Heinrich Brüssow's late withdrawal, gave Saints a shot in the arm.The sizeable wing was a magnet for defenders, creating a bit more space for his fellow attackers, and the likes of Andrew Kellaway and Grayson used it well enough.Grayson helped to set up Naiyaravoro for a key try and, after the bench had been emptied, Saints mounted one final surge.Eadie put the finishing touches on it to seal a scarcely-believable success for his side, who ended Wasps' run of six wins in a row against Saints.It was a sweet end to a largely stodgy afternoon of action and it means Saints have now won three successive matches..If they can put the cherry on the cake by winning against the Cherry and Whites at Kingsholm on Friday night, it will have been a satisfactory cup period.And then the serious stuff of the Premiership will be back on the agenda, with Wasps seeking some revenge at Franklin's Gardens on November 17.That game will surely provide more entertainment, but for Saints' most recent debutants, the match at the Ricoh Arena will remain the most special.How they rated...GEORGE FURBANKQuite a quiet afternoon in attack for the full-back as Saints struggled to get their momentum back after Wasps scored... 6ANDREW KELLAWAY - CHRON STAR MANWas easily the liveliest Saints back, causing problems for Wasps when his side finally got some possession during the final 20 minutes of the match... 7FRASER DINGWALLMade some important tackles, showing his defensive abilities once again, and wasn't shy in attack either... 7FRASER STRACHANWas making his first Saints start and didn't do much wrong and he helped his team stand tall against relentless Wasps pressure at times... 6OLLIE SLEIGHTHOLMELoved the amount of possession he got against Bristol but didn't get anywhere near as much possession and space here... 6JAMES GRAYSONWas the star man against Bristol eight days earlier but this was a far tougher day with Saints on the back foot more. Did well to set up Naiyaravoro's try and kicked the winning points... 6CHARLIE DAVIESWas a nuisance for Wasps at the breakdown, winning plenty of turnovers and, overall, it was a decent showing from a scrum-half who didn't have much ball to work with... 6FRANCOIS VAN WYKEnjoyed the previous week's clash with Bristol, scoring twice, but this was much more difficult, with more pressure in the scrum and extra defending to be done... 5JAMES FISHWasn't totally secure with his lineouts, which wasn't all his fault, as it was not an easy encounter for the visiting pack... 5BEN FRANKSHad his work cut out in the scrum during the first half and although he put plenty of effort in around the park, it was a tricky afternoon... 5API RATUNIYARAWANo shortage of spirit from the experienced lock, who did all he could to push Wasps back at every opportunity... 7DOM BARROWLike Ratuniyarawa, he got through plenty of work, making carries and defending as Wasps put the pressure on... 6JAMIE GIBSONWas skippering the side and got through plenty of work as ever, desperately trying to turn the tide when Wasps were on top... 7PADDY RYANWas making his Saints debut as he came in at late notice and defended well enough for his team... 6MITCH EADIEKept going right until the end, finding the physicality and the crucial score that won his team the game... 7Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)REECE MARSHALL (for Fish 53)Plenty of appetite as ever from the hooker, who certainly added something to the Saints display... 6TAQELE NAIYARAVORO (for Furbank 55)Was a key factor in helping Saints to fightback, gaining them metres with some strong carries and claiming a crucial try... 7DEVANTE ONOJAIFE (for Ryan 56)Made some crucial contributions in attack and defence after coming on for what was a strong cameo... 6

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Taqele Naiyaravoro's try breathed new life into Saints
Andrew Kellaway produced a strong second-half showing
James Grayson kicked the winning conversion