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The second half went scoreless until the 20th minute of injury time, when Bath number 8 Ben Skirving went over in the corner. Ryan Davis could not land the difficult conversion, and Wasps deservedly took the spoils, in a game in which Joe Simpson again showed some electrifying running, playing a key role in all three tries.
Bath came close to a try within the first minute, after stealing lineout ball from a Wasps throw. Matt Banahan came into the line from the blindside and powered 30 metres to the line, dragging a pile of bodies behind him. He couldn’t ground the ball, and the home side were awarded an attacking scrum. They spun the ball out to the right and Wasps appeared to have won a turnover, but referee Chris White gave Bath another put-in. They again moved it out to the right and Wasps were penalised, after a series of phases. Bath skipper Michael Claassens took a quick tap – a long away from where the penalty had been awarded - and forced his way over, before the Wasps defence could organise itself. Ryan Davis landed the conversion to make it 7-0 after 5 minutes.
Wasps almost replied from the restart, when Ben Jacobs charged down Joe Maddock’s clearance kick, deep inside the Bath 22. The ball bounced into the corner flag and into the in-goal area, but Jacobs could not get the touchdown before it went dead.
On ten minutes, Wasps had another chance to open their account when Cipriani went for goal, from a penalty just inside the Bath half, but the ball drifted just wide of the right-hand upright. Two minutes later, the fly half had another chance, from nearer the touchline, but he was again just off target. He then misjudged a kick out of hand, sending the ball out on the full from just inside his own half.
After a Bath penalty set up another attacking position, Wasps won a turnover and audaciously ran the ball from their own line. They appeared to have run themselves into trouble, before Bath conceded a penalty. A blistering run from Joe Simpson then took play deep into the Bath 22. The scrum half had another dart at the line, before the ball was worked left and Cipriani and Lemi combined to send Tom Varndell over in the corner. Mark Van Gisbergen missed the touchline conversion, making the score 7-5, with 19 minutes gone.
Bath threatened immediately, when Wasps failed to secure the restart and Julian Salvi powered his way into the 22, before a knock on gave the visitors the chance to relieve the pressure. But Wasps conceded a free kick at the scrum and Bath opted to take a scrum of their own. They attacked down the blindside, but possession was turned over and Simpson sent a long clearance kick towards halfway. It failed to make touch and Bath counterattacked with a kick to the corner which Mark Van Gisbergen was relieved to see roll into touch, with Banahan breathing down his neck.
Further pressure from Bath then forced a penalty inside the Wasps 22 and Davis made no mistake to stretch the lead to 10-5 with 25 minutes gone. Wasps roared back when Simpson raced away from a scrum inside his 22. As he crossed the Bath 22 he found Varndell on his outside and the winger stepped inside Maddock to cross for his fourth Premiership try in two games. Cipriani was unable to add the extra points.
When Bath built up a promising position in the Wasps 22, resilient defence forced a penalty, to clear the pressure. Maddock then set up a counterattack, after rising high to claim Cipriani’s hoisted kick and charge down the field, but Betsen safely gathered a high ball, and Bath were penalised at the breakdown. Wasps then moved the ball quickly, to create an overlap down the right, but the key pass went behind Varndell and rolled harmlessly into touch.
As the game went into injury time, Steve Kefu’s half break created space down the right, but the defence managed to snuff out the danger. Another darting break by Simpson then set up quick ball on the right. Play was moved back to the left and Cipriani’s exquisitely timed short pass sent Kefu racing through a gap in the defence, and he sent Lemi over for his first try of the campaign. Cipriani added the extra points from near the left touchline to send Wasps into the break with a 17-10 lead.
Wasps made one change at the start of the second half, with Dave Walder coming on at fly half and Cipriani going to fullback, in place of Van Gisbergen.
Bath went straight on to the attack and Cipriani did well to beat Tom Cheeseman to a dangerous chip ahead by Davis - crashing into the advertising hoardings for his troubles. Moments later, George Skivington picked up a loose ball from a Bath lineout on their 10 metre line and charged into the 22 but possession was turned over. A powerful Bath scrum sent the Wasps pack back 5 metres, to set the home crowd roaring. A second scrum brought a Bath penalty, which Davis fired 50 metres into the right corner to set up their best position of the half, but the throw in went too far and Joe Worsley won possession. He tried to clear for touch, but his kick was charged down, putting Wasps in further danger but Bath were penalised, 10 metres from the line. Play then stopped for treatment to Varndell. After lying on his back for some time, he returned to his feet, to the huge relief of the travelling support.
It was then Lemi’s turn to receive treatment, when he was taken out in the air, by Matt Carraro. Wasps kicked to touch and the resulting lineout launched a powerful drive, which took play up to the 22. Simpson broke to the right, but lost possession, giving Maddock the chance to counterattack dangerously,and a kick ahead sent the ball into touch a few metres outside the Wasps 22.
Bath then had a stroke of luck, when a long penalty from Davis appeared to be going into touch in goal, but Varndell reached for it and went out of play giving Bath a five-metre scrum. Wasps conceded a penalty and Bath predictably opted for another scrum, which yielded another penalty and again Bath turned down the kick at goal. Again, Wasps were penalised and Tim Payne was shown the yellow card. This meant that Charlie Beech came on with Dan Ward-Smith going off. With the crowd anticipating a penalty try, Kefu came in to number 8 and a powerful Wasps shove sent Bath back towards the 22 providing a huge boost to their morale.
Despite being a man down, Wasps managed to weather storm and a penalty gave them the chance to establish a foothold in the Bath 22. A jinking run from Walder set up a series of phases, but they were unable to set up the position for a match winning drop at goal. But Wasps lost possession at a scrum on the 22 and Bath counterattacked strongly. In the final minute of normal time the Bath crowd thought Banahan had gone over in the corner but the ball had gone forward, when it was deflected by substitute Jack Cuthbert. Another heroic scrum effort created a Wasps penalty but Walder failed to find touch.
Tim Payne then returned from the sin bin, John Hart replaced Joe Worsley, Bob Baker came on for Ben Broster and Walder made way for Lachlan Mitchell, with Cipriani returning to fly half and the young Australian going to fullback. With injury time stretching to what seemed like an eternity, Bath kept up the pressure, but aggressive tackling forced a series of handling errors before a final wave of attacks lasting over two minutes, forced a penalty near the Wasps line. Bath again opted to scrummage, Wasps were penalised for offside, and another scrum went down, 15 minutes into added time. Tim Payne was then shown a second yellow, making it a red card. This meant that Charlie Beech returned to the fray. Wasps then managed to drive the Bath pack back and turned the scrum but Bath were awarded the put-in. After another series of drives for the line, Ben Skirving forced his way over in the corner, with 19 minutes of injury time showing on the clock. After an agonising wait Davis ran in and sent his kick just wide, giving Wasps a superb win, to make it 2 out of 2 at the start of the new season.
Next weekend, the action moves to Adams Park, for the first time this season. The visitors are Worcester, who did the double over Wasps last season, and were buoyed by a convincing win over Leeds, in their opening home game of the new campaign. Tickets for the first home run out are on sale now – call the ticket office on 0844 225 2990.