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Wasps beaten but unbowed by Sarries
THIS was an heroic effort from Wasps and, in the end, it was worth it.
They left Allianz Park with something to show for some serious toil after Andy Goode finally came through for his team with a last-gasp conversion attempt to snatch a losing bonus point.
Sport has a habit of picking at personal sores and after the start he's had to his Wasps career, perhaps this match was destined to end with a crucial Goode kick against his former club.
It must have been written, even after his erratic goalkicking had cost him a place in the starting XV.
But an injury to Elliot Daly saw him come out for the second half and after missing his first two kicks as the posts, redemption, when it came was sweet.
The fly half clenched his fist and punched the air in half relief, half delight as his final effort sailed between the uprights to make it 19-12 at the end.
But whatever they got from this match was earned in defence. A bristling effort in the first half kept the score down to 3-0 at the interval, and although the gap concertinad as Saracens introduced their star-studded bench after the break, the gap was never so great that Wasps were out of it.
The foundations for this nip and tuck encounter were set in the first quarter.
Apart from the kick off, they didn't get out of their half for 15 minutes and the tackle count was ticking over in fast forward from the first minute. They made 50 if they made one, and Joe Launchbury appeared to make half of them in another astounding defensive effort.
But he wasn't alone. Ashley Johnson was again immense, Ed Jackson was a muscular support act and Daly provided the glimmer of hope on the attacking front, making one trademark 20 surge that left three tacklers grasping air.
It might have been dangerous if he hadn't had to start the run from inside his own 22.
But despite almost complete control for a quarter, Saracens had just one penalty to show for it, knocked over by Alex Goode after six minutes. Tries never looked likely with Wasps' bristling defence winning turnovers and forcing fumbles at every turn, and if Saracens expected to pull away off the tee they were disappointed there too.
Most of the penalties inside Wasps' half went Wasps' way, and even when Kearnan Myall was sin binned just before the half hour the dam didn't bust.
Instead, Wasps put together their most dangerous attack of the half – which admitedly isn't saying much – and might have had the first try if they'd been able to move the ball through the hands quick enough when Christian Wade was the extra man out wide.
But a 3-0 deficit at half time was something of a triumph.
Unfortunately for Wasps, the second half margin was almost identical.
They weren't helped by an injury to Daly, and while Wasps lost his considerable quality Saracens only got stronger as the likes of Farrell, Richard Wigglesworth and Schalk Brits came on.
And in the end that was the difference during a telling third quarter. Will Fraser scored the game's first try after 44 minutes, Farrell's conversion made it 10-0 and three more Farrell penalties built the buffer to withstand another fast finish from the black and golds.
Wade had kept them in it with an elusive weave down the line to send Bell over for Wasps' first points, but a losing bonus was all that was on offer by the time the captain crossed again in the final play of the match to set the scene up perfectly for Goode.
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