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The London Wasps road into Europe is still well and truly on track after The Men in Black finally added Bath to their list of teams beaten this season. Wasps ran out 36-17 winners and scored three tries to two.
Bath came to High Wycombe staring relegation in the face, but with confidence in that they knew they had already beaten Wasps at Adams Park.
One of the concerns going into this game was how the Six Nations players would fare, especially the England players after coming off the high of the Grand Slam. Therefore, Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards decided to rest the internationals until Friday, two days before Sunday’s game.
Gatland said, “We gave the English players off until Friday. I think that mentally they were just so tired. I was a little concerned about them and so didn’t want to put them under too much pressure to perform.
The first quarter of the match was pretty one-sided. Wasps threw everything at Bath and took the lead with a drop goal and a penalty by Alex King.
Gatland said, “The plan was to really take the game to them in the first 20 minutes and hopefully make them start to think about next Thursday. (Bath play London Irish in a bottom-of-the-league clash)
The first try of the afternoon came from Joe Worsley. It was a great try that was made by the backline and finished off by the big England flanker. The ball passed between six players in the backline, eventually ending up in Worsley’s hands, who then finished it off by scoring from 15m out. King converted and Wasps led 13-0.
Worsley showed once again why he is such a class act with a fantastic performance. Gatland added, “Stuart Abbott might have got man-of-the match but, for me, Joe Worsley was my man-of-the-match. His driving, work rate and off-loading was very special.
If Worsley’s try was from good backline handling skills, Stuart Abbott’s was just pure individual class. The centre scored a breathtaking try on the half-hour mark which saw him bob and weave his way between three tackles, skip past Olly Barkley and dot the ball under the posts. That try and King’s conversion stretched the lead to 20-0 and allowed Gatland the option of taking off Lawrence Dallaglio and replacing him with Peter Scrivener.
If things were looking bad for Bath approaching half time, they became even worse when Jonathan Humphreys was yellow-carded for having his hands in a ruck. Referee Roy Maybank was in no mood to mess around and after an earlier warning to the big hooker, he was sent to the sin bin. King landed the easy penalty and Wasps went into the break 23-0 up.
Phil Greening came on for Trevor Leota for the second half and no sooner had the game restarted then Bath crossed over for their first time.
Winger Simon Danielli, scored in the corner and with Barkley adding the extra two points, visions of the game at The Rec came flooding back when Wasps led 24-9 and eventually managed to draw the game 27-all courtesy of King.
Minutes later Barkley added three points from a penalty and it was game on. Bath threw everything at the home side and came close to scoring on many occasions. However, poor handling and slow ball to the backs allowed Wasps to stem the onslaught and deny the visitors any points. King added another penalty and a second drop goal to put Bath out of reach at 29-10. Those kicks were King’s last of the day as he was replaced. Kenny Logan went to wing and Mark van Gisbergen moved to King’s position at flyhalf.
With 20 minutes to go, Bath’s frustrations built and were eventually taken out on Phil Greening. The hooker got into a scuffle with prop David Barnes and Greening was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.
However, a man down could not stop Wasps from scoring again as John Rudd raced in to score his side’s third try of the afternoon. Rudd hacked the ball ahead and it was a race between him and Ayoola Erinle to pick up and score. Rudd won and scored under the posts. Van Gisbergen added the two points and at this stage the game was won with Wasps leading 36-10 and only a few minutes left.
Gareth Cooper added a consolation try for Bath before the final whistle but, with Barkley adding the conversion, it was a case of too little too late.
Maybank blew his whistle and Wasps won 36-17.