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After twice trailing by 14 points, Wasps fought back well to stay in contention until the last minute.
Olly Barkley’s penalty appeared to have denied them a bonus point, but Nick Robinson's long-range effort, with the last kick of game ensured that his side came away with something, from a game in which they had produced glimpses of fine rugby, but were denied by an efficient and strong Bath rearguard.
After an opening few minutes in which Wasps showed an encouraging desire to move the ball from deep, it was the home side who took the lead, with a fifth-minute penalty by Olly Barkley, from just outside the 22.
Wasps continued to show ambition, but that approach almost proved their undoing, when Elliot Daly tried to clear, after an attack broke down, just outside his 22. The kick struck a Bath player and rebounded into the hands of Olly Barkley, who had a huge overlap on the left. Fortunately, he was unable to gather.
Two minutes later, Wasps had their first chance of points, when Bath conceded a penalty at a breakdown on their 10-metre line, but Nick Robinson’s kick went wide of the posts. Wasps remained camped in Bath territory, and a powerful charge by Billy Vunipola led to a penalty, a few metres to the right of the posts, and inside the 22. This time, Robinson made no mistake, to level the scores, after 15 minutes.
Wasps stuck to their policy of moving the ball quickly, and one sustained move appeared to be creating a tryscoring position, until a Bath hand stole the ball from Joe Simpson, and the home side counterattacked well, taking play into the Wasps 22, before the movement was ended by a knockon.
After 27 minutes, Bath built up a patient attack, started by a powerful run by Matt Banahan. The move swept across the field several times, before an overlap was created on the left, and it was Banahan who went over near the left corner. Barkly added the conversion, to give his side a 10-3 lead.
A quick tap by Joe Simpson, following a scrum near halfway, gave Nick Robinson the chance to send a perfectly angled kick towards the corner, forcing Nick Abendanon to step into touch. Frustratingly, the throw in to the lineout was not straight. Wasps were penalised at the resultant scrum, and Bath were able to clear.
Five minutes before the break, Christian Wade finally had his first touch of the game, when he came in from his wing to take a pass from Joe Simpson, after a scrum in midfield.
Although he was immediately smothered by the defence, he managed to get the ball away. Tom Varndell made ground down the left, before play came back infield for James Haskell to power his way into the 22. The ball was again moved back to the left, but the defence was back in numbers, to force Varndell into touch.
Wasps then produced their best attack of the game, when Joe Simpson gathered a kick, deep inside his own half. He produced a blistering piece of acceleration to make 30 metres, before feeding Christian Wade, 40 metres out.
The wing seemed certain to score, but Olly Barkley managed to get back, to make a trysaving tackle, a few metres short of the line. As Wasps tried to keep the ball alive, a desperate Bath hand knocked on, giving Wasps an attacking scrum. Wade again became involved, and the ball went out wide, before coming back infield, and Wasps ended up with a penalty, almost in front of the posts. Robinson’s kick made the halftime score 10-6 – a frustrating scoreline, as Wasps had played most of the rugby, without finding the final cutting edge. Bath had been less ambitious, but had made the most of their one clear try-scoring opportunity.
Wasps began the second half in enterprising fashion, with Nick Robinson producing a neat chip which threatened to set up a chance, but Bath managed to smother the ball, and set up a scrum. They put in a powerful shove, with forced a penalty, and Barkley landed a 40-metre kick to restore the seven-point lead, with 2 minutes of the half gone.
Two minutes later, Bath were 14 points ahead, after making the most of a slice of luck. Christian Wade gathered a long kick, and fed Nick Robinson, The flyhalf came infield and then sent a p[ass back towards the wing, but it struck the retreating Tom Palmer, and fell into the path of Tom Biggs, who hacked downfield and managed to gather the ball, before forcing his way over the line. Barkley landed the simple conversion, to put his side 20-6 ahead.
Wasps responded within a minute. The referee was playing advantage for a Wasps penalty, and Bath’s defenders appeared to stop. Hugo Southwell fed Marco Wentzel, and the lock produced an unlikely chip which went straight into the arms of Tom Varndell, who had a clear run-in to the corner. Robinson landed the difficult conversion, to make the score 20-13.
Wasps then made their first tactical replacements, with Joe Launchbury and Rhys Thomas coming on for Tom Palmer and Tom Lindsay. By now, Chris Mayor, who had come on when Chris Bell suffered a blood injury, was a permanent replacement.
Wasps then had a huge let-off, when Bath squandered a golden opportunity, through Carl Fearns’s terrible pass to the unmarked Michael Claassens. Ashley Johnson then took the place of Billy Vunipola, to make his Wasps debut. He was immediately involved in a thrilling Wasps attack, which began with a weaving run by Christian Wade, from his 22. It finally broke down on the Bath 22, after James Haskell had combined with the new arrival.
With 15 minutes left, and the game still in the balance, Bath took a significant lead, when Kyle Eastmond spun his way out of a series of tackles, to go over for an opportunist, but highly preventable try. Barkley again added the extra points, and the home side now had a cushion.
Needing a try to get within bonus point range, Wasps turned down a kickable penalty, but a promising attack ended when they were penalised for crossing, deep inside the Bath 22.
Wasps then replaced their props, with Tim Payne and Fabio Staibano making way for Zak Taulafo and Simon McIntyre.
Wasps finally scored their second try, with seven minutes remaining. They won a turnover inside their 22, Joe Launchbury broke clear, and fed Christian Wade, who had a clear run in from halfway. He touched down beneath the posts, giving Nick Robinson the simplest conversion, to bring the score to 27-20.
Wasps threw everything into a last attempt to save the game, and an attack down the right appeared to have set up an overlap, but Elliot Daly’s pass towards the unmarked Christian Wade was intercepted by Tom Biggs. Play came back infield, and Wasps conceded a penalty, which Barkley landed, to give his side a 10-point lead.
Despite all their efforts, Wasps appeared destined to come away with nothing, but one last attack created a penalty on the Bath 10-metre line, and Robinson kept his nerve to score the three points which gave his side a deserved bonus point.
Next Saturday, Wasps make their first appearance of the season at Adams Park, when they entertain London Irish.
Wasps team: Hugo Southwell, Tom Varndell, Elliot Daly, Chris Bell, Christian Wade, Nick Robinson, Joe Simpson, Tim Payne, Tom Lindsay, Fabio Staibano, Tom Palmer, Marco Wentzel, James Haskell, Jonathan Poff, Billy Vunipola
Replacements: T. Rhys Thomas, Simon McIntyre, Zak Taulafo, Joe Launchbury, Ashley Johnson, Charlie Davies, Tommy Bell, Chris Mayor
Bath: 15. Nick Abendanon 14. Kyle Eastmond 13. Dan Hipkiss 12. Matt Banahan 11. Tom Biggs
10. Olly Barkley 9. Michael Claassens 1. Nathan Catt 2. Lee Mears 3. David Wilson 4. Stuart Hooper (c) 5. Dominic Day 6. Simon Taylor 7. Carl Fearns 8. Ben Skirving
16. Ross Batty 17. Paul James 18. Kane Palma-Newport 19. Dave Attwood 20. Josh Ovens 21. Mark McMillan
22. Ollie Devoto 23. Jack Cuthbert