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They led 8-0 at the break and magnificent defensive work in the second half restricted Bath to just two penalties before Dave Walder was on target, ten minutes from time, to give his side a cushion.
Bath posed the first serious threat after six minutes, when they worked the ball out wide following a scrum on their own 22. Nick Scott was sent clear down the right and his kick ahead bounced just short of the Wasps line where Richard Haughton was forced to carry over. Bath were awarded a five-metre scrum, but conceded a penalty, and Wasps were able to clear.
A bustling run by Joe Ward made 15 metres for Wasps, taking them into the Bath half, but Dave Walder’s diagonal kick for the corner rolled over the dead ball line. Wasps then pressured the Bath defence into some frantic passing, followed by a hurried clearance, which Rchard Haughton gathered 35 metres from the line. He raced through a gap, to get to within 5 metres, and the ball was recycled several times with James Cannon twice making charges for the line, before Wasps were penalised for holding on to the ball less than a metre out.
Joe Simpson then grabbed a loose ball inside his own 22 and accelerated away. With Tom Varndell outside him he kicked ahead into the Bath 22, where Nick Abendanon managed to gather, but Wasps were awarded a scrum. From it they moved the ball along the line and Steve Kefu cut inside to set up a good position but Bath transgressed, in front of their own posts, and Dave Walder’s simple kick gave Wasps the lead after 20 minutes.
Four minutes later, Mark Van Gisbergen did well to gather Abendanon’s chip ahead and wriggle through several tackles to cross the halfway line. Jack Cuthbert was caught offside at the breakdown but Walder’s long-range kick at goal dropped just short.
Richard Haughton launched the next Wasps attack, when he leapt high to flick his own kick ahead back into the hands of Steve Kefu, before Joe Worsley charged 30 metres into the Bath 22 - but the move came to nothing.
Ben Jacobs crashes through the defence with Joe Worsley in support
Wasps then came close after Kefu sent Ben Jacobs through a gap on the right. When he was stopped, the ball was moved back out to the left, Jacobs reappeared, to find another gap and feed Tom Varndell. The winger managed to flick the ball back infield, just before he was forced into touch at the corner, and it bounced off Mark Van Gisbergen before going over the line. The fullback managed to get a hand to it, but the referee ruled that he had knocked on.
Wasps were now really applying the pressure and they finally crossed the Bath line when Walder’s exquisite chip over the Bath defence bounced into the path of Varndell, who stooped to gather, before going over near the corner, seven minutes before the break. Walder was unable to land the conversion.
Bath’s restart went into the in-goal area, giving Wasps a scrum on halfway, but they were penalized and Barkley went for the posts only to see his kick drop short and wide.
Bath had one final chance to go for a score, after Barkley sent a long penalty to the corner. They won the lineout and spun the ball out to the left, before working it back across the field, but the defensive blanket smothered every attack with the man in possession constantly being stopped by two tacklers. The defence finally forced a knock-on and the half ended with Wasps deservedly leading 8-0.
Tom Varndell tries to find a way through
Wasps had a great chance to go further ahead, in the first minute of the second half. Guy Mercer gathered the restart and charged 30 metres upfield, before spilling the ball in the tackle. The ball was quickly spun out to the right before play came back to the left and Marty Veale went charging downfield. He had Tom Varndell in support, but hung on fractionally too long, and the defence was able to get back to end the attack. Several minutes of further pressure followed before Wasps were penalised for hanging on to the ball inside the Bath 22
Six minutes into the half, Elliot Daly replaced Richard Haughton, to make his Premiership debut. Three minutes later, Wasps were caught offside, just inside their 22, and Barkley opened his side’s account with a penalty from ten metres in from the right touchline.
Bath were now coming back into the game and a sustained period of pressure inside the Wasps 22 eventually earnt them a penalty for offside. Barkley’s kick at goal, from almost exactly the same position as his first successful attempt, sailed over to make it 8-6 with under 15 minutes to play.
The final whistle
With ten minutes left Nic Berry replaced Joe Simpson. He was immediately involved when Wasps won a scrum just outside the 22, and Bath were penalised after Dan Ward-Smith had been caught in possession. Dave Walder was on target to restore Wasps’ five-point advantage.
Another Wasps substitution brought Tom Rees on for Serge Betsen after 72 minutes. Bath were now moving the ball at every opportunity, but the determined Wasps defence was holding firm. In one passage of play the home side went through 16 phases only to be driven back 10 metres.
With the clock at zero, Bath mounted one last sustained attack but the Wasps defence would not be breached and the whistle blew on a fine win, their third successive Premiership victory, their best run since the opening three games of last season.
Wasps are back at Adams Park next Sunday when they take on Exeter Chiefs, in Round 10 of the Aviva Premiership. Tickets are on sale now call 0844 225 2990 or click here to book online.