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Match Report

20 Nov 2005: Wasps v Bath

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Match Report
Bath's Badge Wasps 28
Wasps's Badge Wasps 20
Fixture Type: Guinness Premiership Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sun 20 Nov 2005, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Roy Maybank Touch Judge: Paul Emerson
TV Match Official: Matt Bayliss Touch Judge: Paul Dix

Bath overturned in close finish

London Wasps secured another valuable November win to cement second place in the league with a 28-20 victory over Bath at the Causeway Stadium.

Wasps new talent, winger Neil Baxter

The winning try from full back Tom Voyce puts him second in the Guinness Premiership top try scorers table with 5, but it was newcomer Neil Baxter who won the plaudits and the Man of the Match award with an eye-catching home debut that saw him score two tries and come close to a third.

Baxter has yet to sign a contract with Wasps, but McGeechan declared after the match 'He's with us, full stop.' - a statement that seems to have sealed the young man's future with the club. 23 next week, Baxter started his professional career in rugby league with Salford Reds before a spell with Leicester Tigers. Most recently he was playing American Football with Berlin Thunder before being recommended to Wasps by former winger Martin Offiah.

Having scored on his A team debut a few weeks ago, Baxter made his 1XV debut from the bench last weekend against Northampton before winning his first start against Bath following Stuart Abbott's a late withdrawal with illness.

Wasps kicked off, and Bath's Chris Malone was quick to put leather to ball, but his attempted drop goal in the second minute was well wide. Wasps conceded a penalty in the 4th minute, but again Malone was unable to convert the chance into points.

So it was left to Wasps to open the scoring in the 9th minute. A good, fluent passage of play started with Hoadley ghosting through the defence. From the breakdown Staunton did well to evade the oncoming defence and offload to Dallaglio, who found Ward and finally Baxter, who rounded the overstretched defence for touchdown.

Malone slotted a penalty after 12 minutes to get Bath off the mark and continued to kick for territory, gaining another five-metre line out opportunity. This time the visitors made no mistake as Wasps overthrew the line out and flanker Michael Lipman scooped up the loose ball and dived over for a soft try that took his side ahead 5-8, as Malone couldn't convert the wide conversion.

Wasps responded with a period of pressure that saw Bath concede several penalties in their own 22. A confident Wasps elected to take first a scrum and then a line out. The home side continued to attack and were looking dangerous with the ball in hand. As a result of the pressure, Bath No8 Zak Feaunati was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Voyce, and this time Wasps elected to kick for points, Staunton converting the penalty for parity at 8-8 as the game entered its second quarter.

Wasps launched a good passage of play on the half hour that took them from a line out in their own twenty two to an attacking five metre throw in, via an exciting break from Paul Sackey. Bath absorbed the pressure though and cleared their lines.

As the half entered injury time a late challenge on fly half Staunton by Bath centre Tom Cheeseman lead to a straightforward penalty opportunity for the Wasps No10, who made no mistake in kicking his side back level for 11-11 at half time.Bath started the second half with an early Malone penalty. Wasps countered by camping in Baths half, and though they won a series of five metre line-outs, Bath's strong pack were able to drive the Londoners back from the line effectively. On the 52nd minute however, Wasps turned over a Bath line out and moved into the Bath 22. A peach of an inside pass from Voyce found Hoadley who made good yards before feeding Baxter who showed exhilarating speed to go over in the corner.

From the restart Baxter was as it again, sprinting from just outside his own defensive third into Baths 22 before finally being brought down, Bath kicking themselves out of trouble.

However, despite being a man short after Lipman was shown the yellow card on 58 minutes for killing the ball, Bath came back with a Malone penalty on the hour followed by a drop goal in the 63rd minute that put his team ahead, 18-20 as the game entered the final quarter.

Alex King, who came on in the 64th minute, converted a penalty for Wasps in the 70th minute to nudge his side ahead by one point to 21-20, but with less than ten minutes on the clock, Bath were awarded a controversial penalty, and it also looked as if Wasps were going to lose a man to the sin bin after referee Maybank found fault with an attempted charge down by Wasps. The incident concluded with a penalty awarded to Bath, but Malone pushed the kick across the posts to leave his side trailing by one point.

Things were feeling a little tense as Wasps entered the last ten minutes with just that single point lead, and Malone ready to drop a goal from anywhere on the pitch. Tension was relieved however with a try from Tom Voyce in the 77th minute that put the Champions clear.

Voyce and Dallaglio celebrate

John Hart had charged down a clearance kick that Bath then carried over their own line to concede a five metre scrum. Dallaglio picked up from the base of the scrum and passed off to Voyce who went over from close range, King adding the extras to leave Wasps with a comfortable 28-20 lead as they played out the final minutes.

After the match coaches McGeechan and Edwards were quick to praise new find Baxter. McGeechan was also pleased with the performance from his squad , who have now returned a win record of three from three during the international period.

'It was obvious Bath were going to play for penalties - there was only one team playing rugby out there,' he said, 'but you've got to be careful not to let them in. We allowed Bath too much control in the first half, but in the second half we were better and in the end I was disappointed we didn't get the bonus point.

'The big plus is that it's been a squad month for us, and with 7 or 8 of our key players missing we have got 3 wins. It has been very much across the board involvement from everyone that has allowed us to achieve that.'