A last gasp game saving tackle from replacement winger James Short helped Saracens to a nail biting 21-24 win at Adams Park.
In the final moments of a nerve wracking game, Short, who had replaced Michael Tagicakibau earlier, bundled Wasps replacement Tom Howe into touch as Saracens held on to the win.
Earlier on in the game Saracens were 17 points ahead of their hosts courtesy of tries from Ben Ransom, the impressive Nick Tompkins, loosehead Richard Barrington and winger Jack Wilson.
The opening exchanges may have been short of points but the game certainly didn’t lack any quality as both teams looked to play attacking rugby.
Despite Saracens dominating territory and possession in the earlier exchanges it was the home side who drew first blood.
Wasps openside Matt Everand was the beneficiary after he secured possession from a faltering Sarries scrum on the visitors line, he scuttled over to score despite the attentions of Saracens captain Nils Mordt – Carlisle made no mistake with the conversion to give Wasps a surprise 7-0 lead.
Despite the setback Saracens continued to plug away against Dai Young’s men, with Mordt, Ransom and Spencer continuing to play the territorial game.
Saracens hit back also immediately, Ben Ransom finishing off a great counter attacking try, and the quicksilver full-back will have to thank debutant Tim Streather for his impressive work at the breakdown in the lead up to the score.
The former Nottingham centre disrupted the Wasps breakdown with a stray boot and hacked on for midfield partner Nick Tompkins who showed a lovely slight of hand to feed Jack Wilson who was ankle tapped metres from the Wasps line – from the resulting breakdown, Mordt found Ransom in bags of space and full-back finished in the corner. Spencer was unsuccessful with the conversion.
Saracens we’re now in the ascendency, and moments later they would take the lead through Nick Tompkins. Nils Mordt trickled the ball into the Wasps in-goal, and Tompkins beat the covering Elliot Daly to ground the ball right on half-time. Spencer converted to give Saracens a five point lead going in to the break.
After the break Ben Spencer missed a long range penalty, but it was still all Saracens. Mordt, Spencer and Ransom continued to turn the Wasps around with some clever kicking and the territory game would bear fruit 12 minutes into the second stanza, as prop Richard Barrington scored his sides third try from the base of the ruck.
Minutes later the game looked to be over as contest, when former New Zealand Sevens star Jack Wilson scored in the corner
Wasps No.10 Joe Carlisle dropped the ball in his own half after pressure from Matt Hankin (on for Will Fraser), and Nick Tompkins. Tompkins swooped onto the ball and with great awareness fed Wilson who showed fantastic power and pace to race away to score.
Saracens looked to be in full control, but Wasps refused to lie down and continued to test Saracens resolve. The comeback looked to be on when replacement hooker Cochrane powered over to score, and when Jack Wilson was sin-binned for a professional foul the momentum had swung in the hosts favour.
Wasps battered the Saracens line and scored again through former Sarrie Ben Jacobs, Carlisle nailed the difficult conversion to make the scores 21-24.
In the closing minutes of the game Saracens seemed to be on the rack and when Elliot Daly broke through Saracens midfield with seconds to go, the writing seemed to be on the wall for the visitors.
As Daly raced to the Sarries try line, Wilson (now back on the field after his yellow card) hunted the talented Wasps centre down to produce a stunning tackle just as the Wasps centre seemed to accelerating away to score.
Saracens scuttled back in desperation to support the Kiwi’s heroics, but when the ball was released into Tom Howe’s hands with the lush Adams Park turf in front of him a famous Wasps comeback seemed a formality – but as Howe raced to the try line, James Short sprinted over from his opposite wing to bundle Howe, and Wasps hopes of a win into touch.
A thrilling end to what was a thrilling game.
Next up for Saracens in the LV=Cup is the Llanelli Scarlets at Allianz Park next Sunday.