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Young purrs after win over Saints

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young declared his team are capable of mixing it with the Aviva Premiership's heavyweights following their 20-16 victory over Northampton.

Tries from Ashley Johnson and Tom Varndell in quick succession swung a tight encounter against the champions, who at least salvaged a bonus point with a late touch down by Ben Foden.

The upset came eight days after Wasps succumbed to Saracens in the last play of the game at Twickenham, losing 34-28.

"For 80 minutes we stood toe-to-toe with the champions. I'm really proud of the effort - the will to win was outstanding," Young said.

"It's a great feeling for the players because you don't get to celebrate a win over Northampton very often.

"Over two weekends we've played the two best teams in the Aviva Premiership.

"We could have beaten Saracens and found a way to win against Northampton."

Young, who saw his team crash 74-13 at Northampton in May, felt England hopeful James Haskell covered himself in glory against a star-studded Saints.

"James was outstanding - his physicality and leadership," Young said.

"People were surprised when I picked him as captain because outwardly he can be a little bit 'showbusiness', but inside the camp he's a real role model.

"His work ethic and professionalism are brilliant. Since Christmas his performances have been top drawer.

"He was up against players competing for England spots, but he was outstanding in all aspects."

The only cloud hovering over a deserved win was the knee injury sustained by substitute fly-half Ruaridh Jackson, with Young hoping he will be out for "weeks rather than months".

Defeat was an almighty comedown for Northampton after they had demolished Gloucester 53-6 in the opening match of their title defence.

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder highlighted George North's disallowed try as a pivotal moment. The TMO decided North was in front of kicker Ken Pisi before racing to collect the ball and touch down.

"I was interested by the George North non-try," Mallinder said.

"I've taken a look at it and from the views I had it looked to be at least even, certainly not in front."

Even after toppling Northampton there will be few tipping Wasps to challenge for the play-offs, but Mallinder insisted they should not be underestimated.

"We've said it all along, everyone will be after us and that was proved by Wasps," Mallinder said.

"I don't think we played badly, but we came up against a very motivated, well organised Wasps.

"We weren't smart enough. We got a point, but we should have won.

"We thrashed them in May, but we know that every time we come down here we're in for a tough game.

"Any team that pushes Saracens and probably should have beaten them can't be underestimated.

"Wasps are a good side. They've improved and will do well this year."


From Belfast Telegraph