Premiership: Wasps return to action with a bonus-point win at Northampton

Wasps winger Josh Bassett scored the first and last tries of the game at Franklin's Gardens to take his Premiership tally to two in three matches - five months apart
Wasps winger Josh Bassett scored the first and last tries of the game at Franklin's Gardens
Northampton (6) 21
Tries: Mitchell, Ribbans Pens: Biggar 3 Con: Biggar
Wasps (14) 34
Tries: Bassett 2, Willis, Harris Cons: Gopperth 3, Sopoaga Pens: Sopoaga 2

Wasps made a successful return after five months of inactivity due to the coronavirus pandemic break with a deserved four-try bonus-point win at Northampton Saints.

Winger Josh Bassett scored two tries as Wasps' fourth straight league win helped them into the Premiership top four for the first time this season.

Flanker Jack Willis got another try, while prop Ben Harris also crossed.

Scrum-half Alex Mitchell and lock David Ribbans scored Saints' two tries.

Mitchell scored on his first start since World Cup winner Cobus Reinach's move to Montpellier, while Ribbans' try came on his first Saints appearance since January following an ankle injury.

But, despite twice enjoying a man advantage following yellow cards for Wasps centre Malakai Fekitoa (23) and replacement stand-off Lima Sopoaga, it was still a fourth straight home defeat for Saints.

They are still to win at Franklin's Gardens in the Premiership in 2020 and now drop to sixth.

England hopeful Jack Willis has scored five Premiership tries for Wasps this season
England hopeful Jack Willis has scored five Premiership tries for Wasps this season

Saints were hampered by two changes announced just before kick-off when Harry Mallinder was ruled out with a knee injury and hooker Mikey Haywood stood down following the birth of his second child on Saturday.

Wasps, who lost five of their first six league games this season, climb above Bath and Saints to fourth, their highest league placing since Lee Blackett took over from Dai Young in January.

For Wasps' young flanker Willis it was another fine performance, watched by England boss Eddie Jones in the otherwise almost empty stadium, proving influential on the floor throughout.

Jones was close to giving Willis his debut in South Africa two years ago until a serious injury intervened. But Willis's fifth Premiership try of the season - all of which have come in Wasps' last nine games - has led to further speculation that he might play a role in England's autumn campaign.

Wasps now host struggling Worcester, who have lost seven on the spin, on Friday night, while Northampton are due to travel to The Stoop the following day to face London Irish.

Northampton boss Chris Boyd:

"You can't afford to leak set-piece tries and they got two.

"We were just a bit sloppy with our execution.

"I honestly didn't see that coming."

Wasps head coach Lee Blackett:

"It's Eddie's decision. England's back row is as strong as it's ever been in terms of strength in depth. The young guys are all around the same age and are really coming through.

"But Jack Willis will be there or thereabouts. He can't not be. Hopefully he keeps working hard and keeps playing well. If so, I'm pretty sure he'll get a call-up.

"Jack is proving himself at this moment in time. He's one of the last off the training field, first on. He won't die wondering at any time during his career.

"Thomas Young got the TV man of the match but any of our back three could have got it. They were really good in and around the breakdown."

Northampton: Furbank; Naiyaravoro, Dingwall, Francis, Tuala; Biggar, Mitchell; van Wyk, Haywood, Hill, Ribbans, Ratuniyarawa, Lawes, Ludlam, Harrison (capt).

Replacements: Matavesi, Hobbs-Awoyemi, Franks, Coles, Tonks, Taylor, Proctor, Collins.

Wasps: Minozzi; Kibirige, Fekitoa, Gopperth, Bassett; Umaga, Robson; Harris, Taylor, Brookes, Launchbury (capt), Rowlands, Willis, Young, Shields

Replacements: Oghre, West, Toomaga-Allen, Gaskell, Vailanu, Vellacott, Sopoaga, Mills.

Sin Bin: Fekitoa (23), Sopoaga (62).

Referee: Karl Dickson.