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Match Report

21 Dec 2002: Wasps v Bath

Season Tickets are NOT valid for this Powergen Cup match..

Match Report
Bath's Badge Wasps 17
Wasps's Badge Wasps 20
Fixture Type: Powergen Cup Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sat 21 Dec 2002, Kick Off: 14:45
Referee: Ashley Rowden

London Wasps beaten by Bath

Last Saturday, London Wasps were knocked out of the Powergen Cup, losing 17-20 to Bath. It was a game Warren Gatland’s team will want to quickly forget. Poor handling skills and basic errors, accounted for the side having to play ‘catch up’ for the entire game and eventually succumb to a better side on the day and once again allowing Bath the honour of progressing to the next round.

London Wasps seem to have developed the habit of starting slowly as in the first five minutes Bath completely outplayed the home side and London Wasps battled to get their hands on the ball.

It didn’t take long for Bath to find the tryline as fullback Iain Balshaw sliced his way through some wayward defence and scored after only four minutes. A long pass from fly-half Olly Barkley sent Balshaw on his way through the defensive lines and into the corner. Barkley's conversion attempt hit the upright but the ball bounced over and Bath led 0-7.

The first attacking opportunity for London Wasps came from centre Fraser Waters. Waters found a rare gap in the Bath backline and sprinted about 30 metres. He was eventually brought down before laying off to wing Shane Roiser who recycled to his captain Lawrence Dallaglio. The resulting ruck saw referee Ashley Rowden award a scrum to London Wasps on the five-metre line. With a front row of Will Green, Trevor Leota and Craig Dowd the London Wasps' pack was always going to be the more dominant, and after a massive shove from the pack, Bath were penalised for collapsing the scrum and Rowden had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try. Alex King never misses from in front of the posts and London Wasps drew level to 7-7.

That try seemed to settle the home side a bit more and they began to play the rugby that the Adams Park faithful are used to. For the next 25 minutes both sides battled in the slippery conditions. Someone who did stand out for The Men in Black was Josh Lewsey. Playing at fullback, Lewsey was tested on numerous occasions with the high ball from Barkley and Balshaw and coped well given the conditions.

Bath’s defence was their strong point and even with a inferior pack they made the most of their opportunities. Barkley missed a penalty in the 26th minute but made up for it in the 35th as London Wasps were caught offside. Those three points took Bath to a 7-10 lead and in the 37th minute, Gatland made his first substitution as Mark Lock came on to replace Peter Scrivener at no.8.

The score stayed the same at the break as Dallaglio led his team into the changing rooms.

The second half started and before anybody had even noticed half-time Bath substitute, Chris Malone, had weaved his way around the London Wasps pack, between the backline and over the tryline. The try came so fast in the second half that the Bath coach Michael Foley admitted that he hadn’t even taken his place on the bench and so didn't even see the try. Barkley was never going to miss from in front of the poles and Bath stretched their lead to 7-17.

That try brought on the replacements. Rob Howley replaced Martyn Wood, Mark van Gisbergen for Shane Roiser and Ayoola Erinle for Fraser Waters. Van Gisbergen moved to fullback with Josh Lewsey slotting into Roiser's position on the wing.

Things went from bad to worse on the 60min mark when London Wasps were penalised for holding a player back, Barkley made no mistake with the penalty and Bath went 7-20 ahead.

Thirteen points down, it looked as if London Wasps were dead and buried but somehow they found their rhythm and started to stage an unlikely comeback.

That comeback came from London Wasps' strong point of the day - their pack of forwards. A lineout resulted in a rolling maul, which sent Samoan Trevor Leota over into the corner to score. King's conversion was a difficult one from the touchline but he made no mistake as he lobbed it over the crossbar and closed the gap to 14-20.

A few minutes late Bath conceded their first penalty (hands in the ruck) within striking distance of King. He once again made no mistake and brought Wasps within three points of Bath to 17-20.

The home crowd sensed a remarkable comeback and London Wasps threw everything at Bath, including Ayoola Erinle. The big centre tried to charge down a Mike Tindel clearance and clashed heads. He was knocked out before his huge frame had hit the ground and lay motionless on the ground. He was stretchered off and taken to hospital.

Minutes later the final whistle went and Bath had beaten London Wasps 17-20.

Warren Gatland said, "We gifted them so much ball and our early-season self belief is now beginning to evaporate".