Gopperth holds nerve to sting Saints
PREMIERSHIP REPORT: Jimmy Gopperth held his nerve with the final kick of the game to hand Wasps a dramatic 32-30 victory over Northampton Saints to extend their unbeaten home league record to 17 matches.
Matt Mullan levelled the scores with a last-minute try before Gopperth landed the killer blow against 14 Saints men. Saints had led 18-13 at half-time after tries from Ben Foden, Alex Waller and George North with Elliot Daly replying for the hosts.
Quick-fire tries from Christian Wade and Joe Simpson put the hosts ahead but Ahsee Tuala secured a bonus point for Northampton before Teimana Harrison also crossed. But Jamie Gibson saw yellow late on and there was just enough time for Mullan to pop up for the home side.
It was frantic throughout, with Stephen Myler opening the scoring from the tee early on after as Wasps were penalised for offside. And the Saints extended their lead when Foden, playing on the wing, pounced to grab a stray Gopperth pass in midfield and dotted down in the corner.
Myler was unable to add the extras and the league leaders were right back in contention as England's Daly cut an excellent line in midfield to carve through the Saints defence. Nobody was able to catch the outside centre as he crossed and, with Gopperth adding the conversion, Wasps trailed 7-8.
The visitors were soon back into Wasps' 22 though and after a patient build up, the home side's defensive numbers were stretched and Waller dived over from short range.
Two Gopperth penalties brought the scores level at 13-13 and the Wasps flyhalf could have put his side ahead for the first time, only to see his kick come back off the post.
And Northampton made full use of their lifeline as George North made his way over the whitewash in the final moments of the half.
Wade lit up the Arena early in the second half with an exceptional individual score. Seemingly in a dead-end, the wing chipped the ball over the Saints defence before collecting. He went over almost uncontested and Gopperth added the extras to put the home side in front for the first time in the match at 20-18.
And Wasps' lightning fast start to the second half didn't end there as Simpson found space on the short side, despite the attentions of Louis Picamoles for Wasps' third try.
Saints weren't finished though as they were held up over the Wasps try-line soon after and from the resulting five-metre scrum, Tuala found space on the short side for the bonus point try.
Wasps' proud home record looked under serious threat as replacement Api Ratuniyarawa punched another hole in their defence and Harrison had Saints' fifth try.
The league leaders thought they were back level almost immediately as Kurtley Beale fed Willie le Roux but Joe Launchbury was penalised for obstruction by the TMO and the try ruled out.
But Wasps' record remained intact as Gibson was sent to the sin bin and Mullan burrowed his way over the line, with Gopperth adding the crucial conversion to seal the win.
Tries: Daly, Wade, Simpson, Mullan
Cons: Gopperth 3
Pens: Gopperth 2
For Northampton Saints:
Tries: Foden, Waller, North, Tuala, Harrison
Yellow card: Jamie Gibson (Northampton Saints, 80)
Wasps: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Kurtley Beale , 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, , 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury (captain), 3 Phil Swainston, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse,17 Tom Bristow,18 Paul Doran Jones,19 Matt Symons,20 Nathan Hughes,21 Dan Robson,22 Danny Cipriani,23 Alapati Leiua
Northampton Saints: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 George North, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 Ben Foden , 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Tom Wood (captain), 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 David Ribbans, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Luther Burrell, 23 Ken Pisi
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant referees: Greg M Garner, Jack Makepeace
TMO: David Grashoff