Wasps win nine-try thriller against Bath

Wasps ended the year on a high, with a thrilling  bonus point victory that moved them back to second in the Aviva Premiership.

26 - 31
Bath Rugby Wasps

Fri 29th December 2017
7:45 pm

Recreation Ground Stadium Aviva Premiership As it happened

In a breathtaking opening, they scored three tries in 20 minutes and seemed on course for a runaway victory.

The game then turned, when Marcus Watson, who scored two of the tries, was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on, and in his absence the hosts closed their interval deficit by 14 points.

Both sides then added two second-half tries, after which the black-and-golds’ defensive line held firm against a ferocious Bath assault in the closing minutes to record their sixth successive Premiership victory, and third in a row at The Rec.

Dai Young was forced into a late change, when Kyle Eastmond withdrew from the starting line-up with a tight calf. His place was taken by Gaby Lovobalavu, with Guy Armitage joining the replacements.

In a lengthy opening passage of play, Wasps put the home defence under pressure when Christian Wade chipped into the 22, and Kahn Fotuali’i knocked on, a few metres from the line. Watson then went close in the left corner, after which a penalty was kicked to the corner but the lineout was lost.

However, the visitors soon drew first blood when Wade gathered a loose clearance and launched an attack which ended with Willie Le Roux delivering a superb offload to Watson, who went over for a fine try which Danny Cipriani converted from near the touchline.

Cipriani then came close to a second score, following another impressive build-up when he slipped through a gap, but his offload just failed to go to hand.

It was then Wade’s turn to go close, wide on the right, and with Wasps enjoying total dominance, a second try came on 17 minutes, when Dan Robson stole round a breakdown, to go over near the posts.

After Cipriani added a simple conversion, Wasps split the home defence direct from the restart, with Thomas Young racing over halfway, but his pass to Robson went to ground.

A third try came five minutes later, after powerful bursts by Nizaam Carr  and Joe Launchbury took play deep into the 22. Quick ball was moved left, and Watson crossed for his second try of the night. Cipriani’s conversion attempt fell just short.

With eleven minutes of the half remaining, Bath finally found some space on the right, but Watson got a hand to a pass, with two men outside him. The officials ruled it as a deliberate knock-on, and he was shown a yellow card.

Bath sent the kick to the corner, the lineout was won and Jonathan Joseph was stopped just short, by Lovobalavu’s tackle. However, the hosts continued to press, and after a powerful scrum won quick ball, Fotuali’i sent Rhys Priestland in for a try, which the fly-half also converted.

Seconds before the break, further home pressure resulted in a second try, when Jack Wilson went over in the right corner. Priestland’s touchline conversion made the interval score 19-14. 

Wasps claimed a try bonus point just two minutes after the restart, when Robson broke and sent Juan de Jongh over in the corner. Cipriani converted from the left touchline to extend the lead to 26-14.

Several minutes of  Bath pressure then ended with flanker Paul Grant forcing his way over, only for Wasps to provide the perfect riposte. Excellent work from man-of-the-match Joe Launchbury created space for  Le Roux, and the full back came in on an angled run to send Lovobalavu to the corner. 

A remarkable run by Bath’s Anthony Watson then set up a furious Bath attack, and although De Jongh’s tackle stopped a certain Zach Mercer try, Le Roux received a yellow card for a red zone offside. The home side took immediate advantage as Mercer crashed between the posts to secure Bath’s try bonus.

Priestland’s conversion narrowed the gap to five points, with 15 minutes to play, but it was the visitors who seized the momentum in the closing stages. A sustained period of Wasps pressure was ended by a turnover, but Watson superbly gathered the clearance  and set up a position from which Wade then Launchbury both went close to producing the match-clinching score. 

This was the trigger for Bath to throw caution to the wind in a frantic finale, but when a lineout went astray in the visitors’ 22,  Launchbury put the ball into touch to seal a thrilling victory. 

Bath Rugby Line ups

  1. Beno Obano
  2. Tom Dunn
  3. Henry Thomas
  4. Charlie Ewels
  5. Luke Charteris
  6. Matt Garvey
  7. Paul Grant
  8. Zach Mercer
  9. Kahn Fotuali'i
  10. Rhys Priestland
  11. Aled Brew
  12. James Wilson
  13. Jonathan Joseph
  14. Jack Wilson
  15. Anthony Watson
  16. Michael Van Vuuren
  17. Lucas Nogeura Paz
  18. Max Lahiff
  19. Elliott Stooke
  20. James Phillips
  21. Chris Cook
  22. Freddie Burns
  23. Darren Atkins

Wasps Line ups

  1. Simon McIntyre
  2. Tom Cruse
  3. Jake Cooper-Woolley
  4. Joe Launchbury
  5. Kearnan Myall
  6. James Haskell
  7. Thomas Young
  8. Nizaam Carr
  9. Dan Robson
  10. Danny Cipriani
  11. Marcus Watson
  12. Gabiriele Lovobalavu
  13. Juan de Jongh
  14. Christian Wade
  15. Willie Le Roux
  16. Ashley Johnson
  17. Ben Harris
  18. Martin Moore
  19. James Gaskell
  20. Guy Thompson
  21. Joe Simpson
  22. Rob Miller
  23. Guy Armitage