How did it go down?
Saracens started well against an injury depleted Wasps. Fullback Alex Goode entered the line and collected the ball from Marcelo Bosch in the sixth minute before weighting an intelligent kick for American Chris Wyles to go collect in the corner for the score. Five minutes later British & Irish Lion Jamie George cut a line from a quick tap to stroll through a Wasps defence that had switched off to put Saracens two tries up.
Alex Lozowski, deputising for Owen Farrell, kept the score ticking over nicely throughout the game and he added his first penalty in the fifteenth minute to extend Saracens’ cushion to fifteen points. The early signs were not looking good, however Wasps managed to hit back as hooker Marty Moore went over from a driving maul in the corner. The teams went in 18-7 at halftime.
Lozowski added two more penalties early in the second half to stretch their lead as the home favorites continued to pull away. The Saracens pack were not to be outdone and Jamie George collected his second try from a maul in the fourty-ninth minute and at 31-7 the result seemed a foregone conclusion. George claimed a hat trick in the sixty-fourth minute from another maul to put an exclamation mark on a dominant performance. Wasps scored two tries in the closing stages to take the final score to 38-19, although it was not enough to make the result seem competitive.
How did that prediction go Ed?
Well I did predict a Saracens victory but I was also pretty vague about the margin. In truth I’m not surprised that they were comfortably better than Wasps but I didn’t expect the scoreline to be as emphatic as it was.
So what did we learn?
It is starting to look like a little bit like a crisis at Wasps – Wasps have the same amount of league losses in 17/18 as they did for the entirety of the 16/17 season. They are currently in the midst of an injury crises that has claimed both of their fly halves and forced them into playing fullback Rob Miller in the ten shirt, which isn’t a good look for a team with championship ambitions. Exeter also had an underwhelming start last season before going on to win the Premiership and there is a lot of quality that should be returning from the injury-bay, so Wasps will not be in panic mode yet. They will however want to turn around their recent form to ensure that they are not forced into playing catch-up to be in with a chance of making the playoffs.
Alex Lozowksi is not a one-season wonder – Wasps could have definitely done with former fly-half Lozowski who kept the scoreboard moving nicely with his kicking game. Lozowski has picked up well after a breakout 16/17 and will be competing for international honors again this season. Saracens seem very keen to sign him to a new deal, however Lozowski is one of the hotter English commodities on the market and it is looking increasingly likely that another club will reward him with a hefty contract and assurances that he will be able to step out of Farrell’s shadow as the main man when his current deal expires.
Saracens still look like the team to beat – Wasps struggled after their heaviest ball carrier, Number 8 Nathan Hughes, went off injured in Round Five and they struggled again in his absence. Saracens are in a similar position after losing Billy Vunipola, but they have been able to accommodate for his absence much more effectively than their rivals and this is indicative of their strength as a team. They are an extremely cohesive unit and have built their foundations on a strong set piece, quality players in the front row and a dominant lock partnership. They are currently topping the league after six games and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them stay there for the rest of the year.