7 January 2013, 3:22pm
Guts and determination, on show from the Bath team at Adams Park, were not enough to win in the brutally competitive arena of the Aviva Premiership.
Within 15 minutes, first Nick Abendanon and then Michael Claassens scored tries in the same corner as the boys took an early 12 - 3 lead with Stephen Donald converting one of the two.
The game was certainly not an ill-tempered affair yet, within 30 minutes, first Wasps Tom Varndel was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes, followed later by the unfortunate Dominic Day for an infringement in the lineout. Whilst the first yellow allowed Bath to score their second try at the expense of the gap left by Varndel, momentum was lost when Day was given an enforced 10 minute rest that was to prove critical as London Wasps took full control of the last 15 minutes of the first half.
Christian Wade was outstanding for the home team and capped off a good first half with a trade mark try near the corner flag in front of the Dreams stand. This killer blow on the stroke of half-time, was a kick in the teeth for the Bath defence, who had held the Wasps attack at bay for long periods in the first half. It was to be the turning point of the match and it was understandable that Wasps ran off the pitch at the break with their tails up.
In the second half, an early penalty from Tom Heathcote, replacing the injured Donald, reduced the deficit to just a point. However that was to be the highlight of the second half as far as Bath were concerned as Wasps dominated in the tight through Ashley Johnson, Billy Vunipola and James Haskell . The boys struggled to retain possession, turned over ball under pressure and conceded penalties which were punished by the home team.
The away supporters appreciated a greatly improved lineout and the continued dominance of our front row against opposition teams. Paul James is still producing high quality performances every week and has formed a strong partnership with David Wilson and Lee Mears. Whilst Francois Louw remains the stand out player in the forwards, the Bath pack were not as effective and productive in the loose and open play was largely dominated by Wasps.
Dai Young has transformed Wasps in little under a year and they looked a far stronger team than the one that came to the Rec earlier in the season and lost. This Wasps team might well be challenging for at least a top six finish and qualification for the HC, and possibly a top four finish and a spot in the Premiership play-offs.
The frustration of the players became evident when with just minutes to go, Bath's quality stand out player ever so slightly appeared to attempt to trip a Wasps player on his way to scoring a try and sealing the points for the home side. A dejected Abendanon received a yellow card for this misdemeanour and as he walked around the edge of the field, reflecting no doubt on an extraordinary individual performance, he looked totally shattered at an other team performance in which the players gave everything but just came up short again.
Bath have the opportunity to explore new options in the coming weeks with consecutive home Amlin cup matches. There is genuine interest and excitement at the prospect of Nick Koster returning to first team action, Tom Heathcote starting and a few exciting changes against an Agen team seeking to avenge a last minute defeat in France. Winning the Amlin cup might prove to be the best route into next seasons Heineken Cup.