Northampton Saints beat Wasps after Nathan Hughes red card
Last Updated: 30/03/15 1:57pm
A controversial red card for Nathan Hughes saw Northampton come from behind to win a heated clash against Wasps 52-30 at Franklin's Gardens and move 14 points clear at the top of the Aviva Premiership.
Hughes was sent off when his knee made contact with Northampton winger George North's head as he scored Saints' second try.
The Wasps No 8 insisted it was unintentional, but after watching replays on the big screen referee Craig Maxwell-Keys decided to issue a red card.
After suffering concussion in Wales' opening Six Nations match against England, there were worrying scenes as North lay motionless on the ground.
He started moving shortly afterwards as medics attended to him before he was stretchered from the pitch.
After 34 minutes, when Alex Lozowski kicked a penalty to put Wasps 20-8 in front, it seemed Dai Young's men were in control, but they went in 27-20 down at half-time after a dramatic turnaround saw Northampton add two tries from lineout drives after North's try and the Hughes red card.
It was Hughes who inspired Wasps' opening try after four minutes when he turned George Pisi on the visitors' 22. Wasps shifted the ball to the wing to set Christian Wade free, who ran in the opening score.
Northampton hit straight back as Stephen Myler fired a crossfield kick into the arms of North who scored, while Myler hit the post with the conversion to leave Saints trailing 7-5.
The home side were offside at the restart allowing Lozowski to add three more points and the fly-half then showed a superb turn of pace to skip through a gap and send Wade over for his second try, while Lozowski converted from the touchline to make it 17-5 after 20 minutes.
Myler and Lozowski exchanged penalties, before the match-turning incident.
Samu Manoa caught the restart and sent North powering into the corner, but as he grounded the ball the Hughes ran into him, kneeing the Welsh winger in the head.
Maxwell-Keys showed Hughes the red and Wasps' water carrier - conditioning coach Dan Baugh - had to be pulled away as he argued with Saints forwards coach Dorian West on the touchline.
After a long wait Myler missed the touchline conversion, but Saints had a penalty from the restart and Myler booted it into the corner.
Saints' maul heaved towards the line only to be dragged down and Maxwell-Keys awarded a penalty try. Myler's conversion suddenly made it 20-20.
On the brink of half-time, Saints kicked another penalty to the corner and as their maul piled towards the line, Alex Corbisiero broke off to touch down and Myler converted to make it 27-20.
Facing 40 minutes with 14 men Lozowski kicked a penalty as Wasps moved No 8 Ashley Johnson to hooker and managed to win a scrum against the head on Saints' 22.
They moved the ball wide where Daly drew two men before offloading to Wade. Lozowski landed the touchline conversion to make it 33-30 with 11 minutes left.
The comeback was short lived though, as three minutes later Ken Pisi touched down and two tries in two minutes from Ahsee Tuala, plus two conversions by Myler saw Northampton bring up the half-century and took the win.