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Wasps produced two sparkling tries, from Christian Wade and Tom Varndell. Nick Robinson, on his return from injury, added seventeen points from the boot.
After gathering Bath’s kick-off, Wasps conceded a penalty near their posts, with less than 30 seconds gone. Tom Heathcote was on target, with a straightforward kick. Just over a minute later, it was Bath’s turn to transgress, almost in front of their posts, and Nick Robinson landed a simple kick, to level the scores.
Bath put together the first series of phases, before sending the ball out wide to Tom Biggs, but Christian Wade stopped him in his tracks, and the visitors conceded the penalty. They were then penalised at the lineout, on halfway, and Robinson’s long kick found touch at the corner. Wasps won good lineout ball, and the forwards applied the pressure, which led to a penalty, a few metres out. Robinson made no mistake with the kick, to edge Wasps in front, in the 12th minutes
A quick penalty by Michael Claassens, on halfway, launched a dangerous Bath attack. He found Ben Williams in support, and the centre took play deep into the Wasps 22. Bath recycled quickly, and the backs lined up threateningly, but MOTM Rob Webber put in a crunching tackle, to dislodge the ball, and Wasps were able to clear downfield, where Biggs knocked on. It proved a costly error, as Wasps won the scrum, the ball found its way to Wade, who showed dazzling footwork, to skip round the defence and race away for another memorable try, his sixth of the season. Robinson added the extra points, to make it 13-3, after 20 minutes.
Bath responded immediately; when a series of forward rumbles ended with prop Kane Palmer-Newport crashing over from short range. Heathcote’s conversion narrowed the gap to three points. Bath almost took the lead, after Robinson’s restart failed to go ten metres. They won the scrum, and sent the ball out to Biggs, whose pace took him into the 22, where he found Heathcote in support. The fly half forced his way over, but the defence managed to turn him onto his back, and he was unable to touch down. From the scrum, the visitors again came close, but lost possession as they went for the line. They were then penalised at the next scrum, and Wasps were able to relieve the pressure. They then posed a threat of their own, when Rob Webber burst away from a maul, to charge towards halfway. He found Launchbury in support, but the young flanker’s pass didn’t go to hand. Wasps still managed to keep the ball alive, and Robinson put a well-placed kick behind the defence, only for Bath to win a penalty as the forwards arrived to contest the breakdown.
Nine minutes from the break, Heathcote levelled the scores, with a penalty from 30 metres, in front of the Wasps posts.
Within a minute, the home crowd were celebrating another fine try, following a scrum, 15 metres inside the Bath half. Wasps won the ball; Wade came in from his wing as first receiver, and shimmied past one tackler, before feeding Launchbury, who did well to offload out of the tackle. Robinson appeared in support, and the ball was quickly fed to Tom Varndell, who had a clear 30-metre run-in to the corner. Robinson was just off target with a kick from the touchline, made harder by a strong breeze, which had been rocking to goalposts all afternoon.
Bath should have levelled things straight away, after Palma-Newport’s bullocking run into the Wasps 22 set up an excellent attacking position. They moved the ball quickly out to the right, where they had a clear overlap, but Nick Abendanon’s pass to the unmarked Matt Carraro was knocked on, and a golden opportunity had been squandered.
Deep into injury time at the break, the Bath scrum was penalised just inside the Wasps half. Robinson’s kick for the corner failed to find touch, and Bath’s clearance was the final act of an entertaining and evenly contested half.
Bath pulled back three points two minutes after the break with another Heathcote penalty, after a low pass to Robinson had put the Wasps backs under pressure.
Those three points were cancelled out within two minutes, when Robinson landed another penalty to make it 21-16 to the men in Black and Gold. Wasps then had another let off, when Bath pounced on a loose ball, and hacked it towards the corner. Dan Hipkiss and Tom Biggs both tried to touch down, but the referee ruled that there had been a knock-on.
Wasps were the next side to come close, when they turned Bath possession over in midfield. Nic Berry spotted that there were were oceans of space, and hoisted a high kick. Varndell set off in hot pursuit, as Jack Cuthbert was forced to turn, but the ball went just too far and bounced dead, bringing play back for a Bath scrum, ten metres inside the Wasps half. Nic Berry was then caught offside at the scrum, and Heathcote had another kick at goal, but the ball came back off the right post, and Wasps were able to gather and clear.
Bath kept up the pressure, and Wasps conceded another penalty moments later, just outside their 22. This time, Heathcote judged the wind perfectly, hitting the ball just to the right of the posts, and allowing it to drift left, and over the bar.
A Wasps attack down the right, with Wade again showing his speed, brought a Wasps penalty, and Robinson’s tricky kick restored the five-point advantage. The fly half then came tantalisingly close, with a drop at goal from range, but was just off target. Seconds later, he stretched the lead to 27-19 with a 30-metre penalty from just to the right of the posts.
Robinson then attempted a huge penalty from halfway, two metres in from touch, but it fell just short and wide.
A couple of Wasps substitutions saw Ross Filipo and Matt Everard take the places of Joe Launchbury and Richard Birkett, before Bath set up a tense climax, when Guy Mercer forced his way over for a try, with five minutes left. Heathcote’s conversion went wide, making the score 27-24.
Everard, on his home debut for Wasps, then made his presence felt, with an excellent chase to bring off a thunderous tackle on Nick Abendanon, after the fullback had done well to gather Robinson’s high kick. Simon McIntyre then came on for his home debut, taking the place of Ben Broster, as the game entered added time.
With seconds left, the Wasps scrum won a penalty, 38 metres out. Robinson’s kick went wide, but the final whistle went, and Wasps had secured their third win of the season.
The Aviva Premiership now takes a break for two weeks, for the opening games in the LV= Cup. Wasps are away to Worcester Warriors next Saturday. They then welcome Newport Gwent Dragons to Adams Park, on Saturday the 22nd of October. That game kicks off at 7.45pm.
The next home Premiership game will be on Sunday, the 6th of November, when Northampton Saints are the visitors.
15 Hugo Southwell 14 Tom Varndell 13 Chris Mayor 12 Chris Bell 11 Christian Wade 10 Nick Robinson 9 Nic Berry 1 Tim Payne 2 Rob Webber 3 Ben Broster 4 Marco Wentzel 5 Richard Birkett 6 Joe Launchbury 7 Jonathan Poff 8 John Hart (c)
16 Jeremy Castex 17 Tom Lindsay 18 Simon McIntyre 19 Ross Filipo 20 Matt Everard 21 Jonah Holmes 22 Ryan Davis 23 Jack Wallace
Nick Abendanon, Matt Carraro, Dan Hipkiss, Ben Williams, Tom Biggs; Tom Heathcote, Michael Claassens; David Flatman (capt), Pieter Dixon, Kane Palma-Newport; Dave Attwood, Ryan Caldwell; Ben Skirving, Guy Mercer, Simon Taylor.
Ross Batty, Charlie Beech, Mark Lilley, Will Spencer, Andy Beattie, Mark McMillan, Paul Roberts, Jack Cuthbert.