Despite conceding two early tries, Wasps came roaring back to clinch their ninth win in nine games at Adams Park and the result lifts them to fourth place, in the Aviva Premiership.
Wasps got off to the worst possible start, conceding a try inside 30 seconds. Bath kicked off, Wasps gathered and fed Stephen Jones who attempted a clearance from his 22. He failed to find touch. Nick Abendanon gathered, a few metres inside his own and proceeded to run through a series of attempted tackles before breaking clear and going over in the corner. Stephen Donald missed the conversion.
Wasps responded with a Stephen Jones penalty, on 4 minutes. Two minutes later they were reduced to 14 men for ten minutes, when Tom Varndell was sent to the sin bin, for a tip tackle on Horacio Agulla – a decision reached after the referee consulted the TMO.
Despite being a man down, Wasps produced the next serious attack, when they moved the ball quickly out to top the left. In Varndell’s absence, Hugo Southwell was out wide and he chipped into the 22, where Abendanon knocked on, as he attempted to gather, 15 metres from his line.
The scrum went down but from the reset Bath were penalised, 5 metres in from touch. Stephen Jones went for the posts, but his kick went narrowly wide of the left post.
There were some worrying moments for Wasps, when Joe Simpson landed awkwardly after going up to take a high kick. He required several minutes of treatment. With his right thigh strapped, he was then caught in possession at a scrum and Wasps were penalised for not releasing. Donald’s penalty found touch inside the Wasps 22. Bath won the lineout, the forwards drove towards the line, before the ball was released and Michael Claassens went over near the right corner.
Donald’s conversion made the score 12-3, with 15 minutes gone.
Varndell returned from the sin bin and was immediately involved in a promising attack, when Wasps ran the ball from deep. The winger was sent clear, a few metres inside the Bath half.
He was stopped just inside the 22 and the ball went into touch for a Wasps lineout. They won the ball and pressed for the line, before the Bath defence was penalised a few metres to the left of the posts. Stephen Jones landed the kick, to narrow the gap to 12-6.
It was then Bath’s turn to lose a man to the sin bin, when Dominic Day took James Cannon out in mid-air, at a lineout 40 metres out. Jones’s penalty narrowed the gap to 12-9.
Donald missed a kickable penalty after Wasps transgressed at the breakdown, 35 metres out. They then threatened a breakaway try, when Simpson, clearly struggling from his previous injury, was again caught in possession at a scrum. He threw a rushed pass to Tom Varndell, who knocked on, into the path of Kyle Eastmond. The Bath centre hacked downfield, deep into the Wasps 22, but Hugo Southwell managed to get back and clear to touch.
With six minutes of the half left, a controlled drive by the Wasps forwards yielded a penalty, five metres inside the Bath half and a few metres in from the left touchline. Elliot Daly went for the posts, but his kick went wide, to the right.
In the final minute of the half, Wasps finally took the lead when Christian Wade went over in the right corner, after a seemingly endless passage of play. The home side swept right and left through countless phases, before the winger finally had the chance to cross for his sixth premiership try of the season. It was no simple run-in, and he did well to power his way through a series of attempted tackles, before crashing over, with Tom Biggs hanging on to his shoulders.
Stephen Jones landed a fine conversion, to make the halftime score 16-12 to Wasps – an excellent recovery, after a poor start.
Bath pulled back three points within two minutes of the restart, when Tom Heathcote, who had replaced Stephen Donald, landed a simple penalty.
Another multi-phased attack by Wasps saw Ashley Johnson go close, before the Wasps forwards forced their way over the line. Zak Taulafo appeared to have got his hand to the ball, but after lengthy consideration, the TMO ruled that no try had been scored.
Two scrums followed, before the Wasps pack was penalised, and Bath lifted the siege.
It was only a brief respite, as the visitors then had possession turned over and conceded a penalty, just under 40 metres out and in front of the posts. Jones made no mistake with the kick, to give Wasps a 19-15 lead, with 25 minutes left to play.
Six minutes later, another Jones penalty stretched the lead to 22-15, as Marco Wentzel replaced James Cannon.
Andrea Masi then came on as a blood replacement for Tom Varndell, who had been involved in a sickening clash of heads with Rhys Thomas.
Wasps kept up the pressure and had a chance to stretch their lead, with 12 minutes to go, but Robinson was off target with a 30-metre penalty.
Wasps made the game safe, with eight minutes left, after Bath knocked on in midfield. Wasps gathered the loose ball and moved it out to the left, where Elliott Daly chipped towards the line. Joe Simpson gathered the bouncing ball and fed Chris Bell, who crashed over. Robinson converted and Bath were reduced to 14 men when Abendanon took Daly out, as he chased his own kick.
Daly then came close to a third try for Wasps as he chased a kick ahead, but just failed to get the touchdown. The closing minutes saw Wasps pressing strongly for a third try, but Bath held out and the final score was 29-15 to Wasps.
Wasps team: 15. Hugo Southwell (c) 14. Christian Wade 13. Elliot Daly 12. Chris Bell 11. Tom Varndell 10. Stephen Jones 9. Joe Simpson 1. Zak Taulafo 2. T Rhys Thomas 3. Phil Swainston 4. Joe Launchbury 5. James Cannon 6. Ashley Johnson 7. James Haskell 8. Billy Vunipola
Replacements: 16. Tom Lindsay 17. Tim Payne 18. Will Taylor 19. Marco Wentzel 20. Sam Jones 21. Charlie Davies 22. Nick Robinson 23. Andrea Masi
Bath: 15. Nick Abendanon 14. Horacio Agulla 13. Kyle Eastmond 12. Matt Banahan 11. Tom Biggs 10. Stephen Donald 9. Michael Claassens 1. Paul James 2. Lee Mears 3. David Wilson 4. Stuart Hooper (c) 5. Dominic Day 6. Francois Louw 7. Guy Mercer 8. Ben Skirving
Replacements:16. Tom Dunn 17. Charlie Beech 18. Anthony Perenise 19. Dave Attwood 20. Will Skuse 21. Mark McMillan 22. Tom Heathcote 23. Dan Hipkiss
Wasps will be back at Adams Park next Saturday, when they face Mogliano, in round 5 of the Amlin Challenge Cup pool games.