Zach Kibirige’s second try of the night took him clear of Gloucester’s teenage Welsh winger Louis Rees-Zammit and Saracens flanker Ben Earl as the Premiership’s top try scorer this season – on seven
Gallagher Premiership
Wasps (31) 60
Tries: Kibirige 2, Shields 2, Willis, Carr, Umaga, Oghre Cons: Gopperth 7 Pens: Gopperth 2
Saracens (5) 10
Tries: Crossdale, Lewington

Inspired Wasps marked their first game since Dai Young’s exit as director of rugby by scoring eight tries to trounce already relegated champions Saracens.

Playing in Coventry on a Friday for the first time, tries from Jack Willis and Nizaam Carr and two for Zach Kibirige earned a bonus point by the break.

Brad Shields (2), Jacob Umaga and Gaby Oghre added four more, aided by Jimmy Gopperth’s 20 points with the boot.

Sarries managed only unconverted tries for Ali Crossdale and Alex Lewington.

Wasps were playing their second game under interim head coach Lee Blackett, who took over prior to Tuesday’s departure of the popular former dual code Wales international.

And they were not helped when they had to make two late injury-enforced changes, losing not only England’s Kieran Brookes but Young’s son Thomas, Wasps’ co-captain, who was ruled out by a hamstring injury.

But, sparked by the outstanding Umaga at stand-off, this was very much a Friday night farewell send-off for their old boss, whose nine years in charge were acknowledged by a pre-arranged round of applause and standing ovation on nine minutes.

The irony of Wasps’ first game following Young’s exit being against Saracens was huge. In his time in charge, first in High Wycombe, then in Coventry, his failure to win a major trophy with Wasps was largely undermined by Sarries’ success. On top of that, he was also powerless to prevent two of his best players moving to Allianz Park in that time – Alex Lozowski in 2016 and Elliot Daly in 2019.

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Saracens had also won the last six meetings between the two clubs. But this was a very nice way for the hosts to mark a new era – a fourth win in only 11 games this season, but their second in three, to lift them within just three points of a play-off place. Their biggest league win in almost six years at the Ricoh Arena was also their best against Sarries, edging their 64-23 win at Allianz Park under Young in February 2016.

After Gopperth’s early penalty, from the moment that Willis got the night’s opening converted try on 15 minutes, it was pretty much one-way traffic.

Six minutes later, Umaga set up late replacement forward Carr for the second try. And, by the 33rd minute, after two quickfire tries for winger Kibirige, to make him Premiership’s top try scorer this season on seven, the hosts had their fourth try bonus point in five games.

Right on half-time, Sarries finally got on the scoreboard through late replacement winger Crossdale in the corner. But there was no let-up after the restart, launched by a second successful Gopperth penalty.

England forward Shields marked his first start in two months with two tries, getting the first when a well-judged cross-field kick from Umaga bounced favourably for him to score.

Umaga turned try-scorer when he supported an elusive run from Kibirige to go under the posts then, after Shields’ second try, Sarries scored again when Lewington went over from Alex Goode’s pass.

But Wasps had the final say when Oghre came off the bench to finish off a line-out drive – the only shock being that Gopperth failed with the boot for the first time – to miss out on a perfect 10 kicks from 10.

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Wasps’ in-form flanker Jack Willis scored his third try in five matches

Wasps interim head coach Lee Blackett told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire:

“The things we had issues with last week we sorted. We feel we’ve been building a performance like that for some time but we didn’t show it last week at Leicester, when the conditions didn’t suit our game.

“Our intent to attack was really good and, while the attack will get a lot of credit. look at how many turnovers we created. That was a credit to the hard work our forwards have put in over the week.

“We talked about playing at the Ricoh as we felt we were putting too much pressure on ourselves when we play here. We tried to remember what a great stadium it is, to go out and enjoy ourselves.

“At one stage, I thought we’d lose the whole of our starting pack from last week. Fortunately a couple came through tests late in the day, including Jack Willis, who we had to take off early in the second half as a precaution.”

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall:

“It’s a hugely disappointing effort. The opposite from last week when we had a very good win over Sale.

“A number of areas were not up to scratch. We’ve got a number of young players in our group, who couldn’t reproduce last week’s form.

“They gave us some harsh lessons and, on the night, they were really quality opponents.

“It’s just one of those games. You wouldn’t know where to start in assessing where it all went wrong.”

Wasps: Watson; Kibirige, Fekitoa, Gopperth, Bassett; Umaga, Robson (capt), Harris, Taylor, Alo, Matthews, Flament, Shields, Willis, Carr.

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Replacements: Oghre, West, Cardall, Morris, Toomaga-Allen, Porter, Sopoaga, Le Bourgeois.

Saracens: Goode; Crossdale, Taylor, Barritt (capt), Lewington; Vunipola, Whiteley; Barrington, Singleton, Koch, Kpoku, Hunter-Hill, Isiekwe, Reffell, Wray.

Replacements: Woolstencroft, Carre, Ibuanokpe, Christie, Pifeleti, Spencer, Morris, Obatoyinbo.

Sin bin: Lewington (44).

Referee: Christophe Ridley.



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