Wasps 27 Northampton Saints 16: Tom Vickers' review and player ratings

If there's one thing that is predictable about Saints this season it is that they will continue to be unpredictable.

Monday, 7th January 2019, 1:54 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 2:38 pm
It was a scrappy game at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday (pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Excellent against Exeter one week, well below par against Wasps the next. The rollercoaster nature of the campaign continued at the Ricoh Arena.Saints were unable to maintain the momentum created at the end of 2018 as they started 2019 with a chaotic defeat in Coventry.It was chaotic because there was no real pattern to the overall play during the second period, when Saints simply couldn't get out of their own half for long periods.The clinical streak they showed when in possession against Exeter eluded them.Their ball security wasn't strong enough and Wasps took advantage, registering a rare shut-out during the second half.Saints rarely looked like scoring after the break, with a late Luther Burrell opportunity their only real chance.It was, as boss Chris Boyd said, all a bit flat.But, as with so many games - particularly away from home - this season, it could all have been so different.Saints were in the ascendancy during the opening 15 minutes.But after huffing and puffing, they were made to pay.Had they found a way through Wasps in the formative stages of the match, there is every chance they could have gone on and won.Because the home side were lacking confidence and looked tentative after losing their previous five games.Saints had the chance to keep their foot on the throat of Wasps, but, to their credit, Dai Young's men defended well and took their chance when it came.And after Josh Bassett's score was backed up by another, from Juan de Jongh, five minutes later, you could feel the confidence returning in the home ranks.Saints will feel they should have prevented those scores, particularly de Jongh's as Ahsee Tuala misjudged the situation.But Boyd's side did at least respond and, with Dan Biggar kicking superbly, they were just a point down at the break.The game was there for the taking.Just as it seemed to be in matches at the likes of Bath and Sale Sharks earlier in the season.But as on those occasions, Saints were unable to deliver the energetic second half they wanted, and needed.And eventually they fell to another frustrating defeat.It was all a far cry from the wins against Worcester and Exeter, but it was not wholly unexpected in a season that is proving so mixed.The good thing for Boyd and his fellow coaches is that he continues to learn more about his squad as the weeks go by.And with some big decisions to be made with several senior players out of contract this summer, he will want more fight for futures in the weeks to come.The young players are stepping up and have been rewarded with deals that will see them form the fulcrum of the club for years to come.Now the more experienced men will again be asked to deliver more to ensure Saints rise from their current ninth position in the league standings.With the table so tight, anything is possible during the remainder of the campaign.But what is not in doubt is that Saints will have to put together better second-half performances than the one at the Ricoh if they are to achieve their aims.How they rated...AHSEE TUALALooked sharp when he got in possession, making a couple of strong runs, but defensively it wasn't an easy day and he will feel he should have stopped Juan de Jongh's score... 5TOM COLLINSLooked desperate to find space and when he did, he troubled Wasps, but a couple of decisions didn't pay off for him... 6FRASER DINGWALLAnother good day for the young centre, who scored yet another Premiership try and once again illustrated that he is more than capable of playing at this level... 7LUTHER BURRELLWas so close to a tidy try late on as his clever swivel was followed by the ball falling from his grasp at the key moment, but he was always in the game... 6TAQELE NAIYARAVOROWasn't able to get in the game at all as he struggled in defence and had no possession to work with in attack... 4DAN BIGGARAnother impressive showing from the fly-half as he kicked every point that came his way and also put in a big shift defensively... 7COBUS REINACHThe scrum-half was always probing for an opening and was unfortunate to play a part in the concession of Wasps' third try as he appeared to have grounded the ball in the build-up... 7FRANCOIS VAN WYKDidn't really do anything wrong and he looks likely to provide a real challenge for a regular starting spot in the weeks to come... 6REECE MARSHALLAlways looks for work and got through plenty of tackles but Wasps made it difficult for the Saints forwards... 6EHREN PAINTERNot an easy day for the young prop as referee Luke Pearce penalised him on a couple of occasions... 5DAVID RIBBANSWasn't able to have his usual influence on proceedings in what was quite a quiet display from the lofty lock... 6COURTNEY LAWESDid his best to blast holes in the Wasps defence and he also made some huge hits but he couldn't help Saints get anything from the second half... 7TOM WOODConceded four penalties on the day as he failed to find favour with the referee but he was more influential in attack, making plenty of carries... 5LEWIS LUDLAMJames Haskell described this player as a 'tackle machine' and there's no doubting that he was heavily involved once again, showcasing his desire in defence... 7TEIMANA HARRISONGives his all every time he steps on to the field and this was no different as he desperately tried to drive Saints forward... 7Replacements (who played more than 20 minutes)API RATUNIYARAWA (for Ribbans 55)Tried to rattle Wasps a bit with his physicality but the home side were dominant and did not let the Saints forwards get a grip on the game... 5HEINRICH BRUSSOW (for Ludlam 55)Is always eager to get in the thick of the action, but Saints were on the back foot and it wasn't an easy match to have an influence on... 5ANDREW KELLAWAY (for Collins 55)Has had a fine season so far but this was a difficult game to come into as Saints were under pressure when he got on the pitch and he didn't see much of the ball... 5CHRON STAR MAN - Thomas Young (Wasps)

Luther Burrell and David Ribbans were in action

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