Wasps 29-22 Bath
After a dramatic week off the field, Wasps showed their pedigree on it, with a magnificent win over high-flying Bath.
Ferocious defence, a superb performance by the forwards and precision goal kicking by Andy Goode saw them go 29 points clear, before a late Bath rally set the alarm bells jangling. With skipper James Haskell leading from the front, with a MOTM performance, Wasps kept their cool to close out a win which will send them into Europe, in confident mood.
Wasps were forced into a late change, with a minor road accident forcing Joe Launchbury to withdraw from the starting line-up, although he was uninjured. James Gaskell took his place, with Ed Jackson joining the replacements.
All the opening pressure came from the visitors, and it took one superb tackle by Andrea Masi to stop Kyle Eastmond, before Ashley Johnson pulled off a crucial turnover, a few metres from the line.
After four minutes, the Bath backs combined to send Eastmond through a gap to touch down between the posts, but the try was ruled out for crossing.
A minute later, Joe Simpson sent up a high kick and Elliot Daly's excellent chase set up a Wasps penalty, 35 metres out, 15 metres in from the left touchline. Andy Goode's kick gave his side the lead.
With 16 minutes gone, another Simpson kick troubled the defence and Alapati Leiua produced a powerful run to take him into the Bath 22, but he lost possession in the tackle.
Bath began to apply further pressure, and Semesa Rokoduguni came close in the right corner. Then, another mighty Wasps scrum turned over possession near the line. Ashley Johnson broke away and fed Alapati Leuia, whose fine run took play into the Bath half and yielded a penalty in the middle of the field. A second successful Goode kick took the score to 6-0, after 23 minutes.
Eleven minutes before the break, Andrea Masi sent a delicate chip towards the left corner. It bounced into the arms of Sailosi Tagicakibau, who managed to get over the line, but the defence prevented him from grounding the ball.
A series of dominant Wasps scrums saw them come desperately close to a try. Eventually, they moved the ball out wide, before James Haskell went close, By now, the unmarked Andrea Masi was screaming for the ball, out on the left touchline. Andy Goode lofted a kick in his direction, but the ball landed behind him and bounced into touch, a few metres from the line.
A minute later, Goode rediscovered his touch, with a 40-metre penalty to stretch the lead to 9-0, four minutes before halftime.
Almost immediately, Bath were reduced to 14 men, when Leroy Houston was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Joe Simpson.
On the stroke of halftime, Bath conceded another penalty, just inside their own half. Elliot Daly's magnificent kick just had the legs to drop over the bar, leaving Wasps 12-0 clear after 40 minutes of enormously committed rugby.
Three minutes after the restart, David Wilson followed Houston into the sin bin, for a trip on Nathan Hughes. Goode was again on target, from 40 metres, to put Wasps 15-0 ahead.
Wasps took immediate advantage as Christian Wade was tackled off the ball, as he followed up on Elliot Daly's precision kick towards the left corner, just short of the line. The referee immediately went between the posts for a penalty try, and sent Micky Young to the sinbin. Goode's conversion stretched the lead to 22-0.
A minute later, Wasps breached the defence with a second try, following a thunderous charge by Ashley Johnson down the middle of the field. He fed Sailosi Tagicakibau, who raced in from 35 metres, for his first try for Wasps. Goode's conversion was a formality and Wasps were now 29 points clear.
Bath served an immediate reminder that the game was still not won, as Wasps failed to gather the restart, the ball was moved out to the left, and Jonathan Joseph went over in the left corner. George Ford's conversion hit the right post.
Tagicakibau came close to a second try, after a searing burst down the left, but it was Bath who scored next, when Micky Young scampered over near the posts, with just over a quarter of an hour to go. Ford converted, making the score 29-12 to Wasps.
Ten minutes from time, Bath narrowed the gap still further, with a try from replacement David Sisi, following a powerful scrum deep inside the 22. This time, Ford landed a tricky conversion, and the gap was now down to just ten points.
Five minutes from time, the Bath scrum, which was now taking control, won a penalty, on the Wasps ten-metre line. Ford made no mistake, to bring his side within bonus point range.
Wasps kept their nerve and controlled the ball for well over a minute at the end, to seal a memorable win.