WASPS director of rugby Dai Young insisted his side are progressing despite crashing to a 26-17 defeat to play-off rivals Saracens and surrendering their unbeaten Premiership record at the Ricoh Arena yesterday,
Tries from flanker Jackson Wray and wing Chris Wyles helped turn the tide in Saracens’ favour after the Allianz Park outfit had trailed 17-3, thanks to quick-fire touchdowns by Wasps winger Christian Wade and centre Elliot Daly.
England full-back Alex Goode kicked two second-half penalties as the visitors compiled 23 points without reply, while fly-half Andy Goode added a total of seven points with the boot in a losing cause, which represented a huge blow to Wasps’ top-four aspirations.
In-form Wasps entered the game level on points with Saracens but dropped to sixth, and Young admitted his players failed to combat Saracens’ unique style of play.
“Nothing changes as a result of today, we are still a work in progress and we are still aiming for a place in the top six,” said Young.
“We will address what went wrong. Our set piece didn’t function as well as we would have liked and we lacked a bit of control in the second half. However, we do have individual players who can lighten up any stadium as you saw in the first 20 minutes.
“We knew what was coming from them as they don’t play a lot of rugby, they kick the ball a lot to squeeze you and it’s very hard to play against.
“If you can control it, you get options to play as we showed in the first 20 minutes but after that we struggled to deal with the aerial bombardment as we dropped the ball far too often.”
Saracens boss Mark McCall hailed the resilience of his players after Wasps had landed early first-half blows and also calmed injury worries over centre Brad Barritt, who limped off in the second period following a clash with Andy Goode.
“We had the clarity of thought not to be spooked when they scored two tries in three minutes as we put the ball in the right areas to put pressure on them,” said McCall, whose side rose to third in the Premiership.
“You can see that they have people who can hurt you from long range as they’ve scored a lot of tries from inside their own half this season.
“We had chances to close it up late on, which we didn’t take, but we did deprive them of a vital bonus point.
“We are hopeful [Brad Barritt’s injury] isn’t too serious and we have our fingers crossed because Brad must be very close to England selection next week.”
A late try from replacement Tommy Bell, meanwhile, extended Leicester Tigers’ winning streak to six matches after snatching a 16-12 victory against Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park.
The result had repercussions for basement side London Welsh, who lost 74-19 at Exeter Chiefs on Saturday, as the Exiles were granted a stay of execution from impending relegation.
Should Newcastle lose all of their remaining fixtures, London Welsh would have to win all five of their own and pick up a bonus points in at least three to have a chance of avoiding the drop.
Scrum-half Danny Care crossed the line as eighth-placed Harlequins staved off a late London Irish fightback on Saturday to earn a 26-20 success at Twickenham Stoop.