5 years ago
2 April 2009, 2:44pm
Earlier this week, Head Coach Steve Meehan had praised Bath Rugby's fly half Butch James for his motivation and determination leading into this match against London Wasps tonight and having admitted that he had yet to see a number 10 this season teach James "a thing or two", tonight was going to be no exception and with five penalties and one conversion under his belt, the South African helped kick Bath to a 22-14 victory.
Much has been said about Bath's high-octane blend of attacking rugby this season, and although it was evident again tonight by the bucket load, it was their defensive prowess that really set the platform for the win.
The home team emerged from the interval two points down, but in a gladiatorial battle and having lost their captain to injury, Bath battled back in exhilarating style to move eight-points clear of their opponents and step back up into the top tiers of the Guinness Premiership.
It was their forward pack, driven on by the back row of Andy Beattie, Michael Lipman and Jonny Faamatuainu who squeezed the life out of the Wasps and James kicked the opening points after Wasps were pressurised into conceding a penalty on the half way line.
Wasps, looking to ignite a badly misfiring season, hit back moments later with Danny Cipriani, hitting a penalty of his own to level the scores and get his side up and running.
Determined to make a move away from their equal scores, Scott Bemand made a swift pass out to Joe Maddock to make a rapid sprint down the wing. Maddock made a quick chip and chase and made enough distance into Wasps' 22 that it looked like he would be able to score, but he was met by a tackle from Joe Simpson stopping the try from materialising.
With just a little over 10 minutes left of the first half, Lee Mears, having recently returned from international duty, made a break midfield up to the 22 metre line. There he found James to his left, but as the fly half attempted to make one of his famous 'blind passes' back inside, Michael Lipman was unable to collect. A scrum followed and as Faamatuainu peeled off the back to offload to Scott Bemand, Bath once again looked dangerously close to scoring. However, they were forced to content themselves with three points instead of five as a Wasps infringement gave James the change to successfully kick again.
Responding well, the London contingent were quick to notch up some points on their side of the scoreboard after some rapid passing between Dominic Waldouck and Riki Flutey allowed the centre to sprint over the line for five. As Cipriani kicked the conversion too wide, it gave Bath a respite for only a brief time, for three minutes later the referee handed the ball back to the black and gold fly half to make amends for his previous miss and kick three points perfectly at 37 minutes.
Whilst the Wasps were leading by five points with just three mere minutes left until the break, Wasps were penalised again, allowing James to reduce the score divide to 9-11 and whilst Cipriani was given the chance to kick again himself, he booted the ball wide once more and Bath went into the changing rooms just two points behind.
Bath returned to the pitch after the interval in the knowledge that this was a must-win match, with a two point deficit to make up for and the closeness of the score line only acted to intensify the tension and the crowd became increasingly louder as the time ticked on. The ferocity of the match was typified at 54 minutes when Bath captain, Michael Lipman was replaced by James Scaysbrook as injury resulted in him being stretchered off the pitch.
The loss of their captain acted only to spurn The Rec players on and them some excellent interplay between Bemand, Abendanon and Justin Harrison got the Bath boys deep inside their opponent's territory where James made a cross-field kick for Maddock to finish. The ball went wide into the crowd, preventing the try, but after a scrum on the line, Faamatuainu was able to break from the pack and plant the ball over the white line for five. A James conversion sent Bath into the lead at 59 minutes with 14-11 to Bath.
Wasps nibbled away at the arrears through the boot of Jeremy Staunton to keep the Rec faithful on the edge of their seats at 16-14. But Bath, showing yet more character, came back and James landed another penalty to give Bath a 19-14 lead at 68 minutes.
With the clock running down the final 10 minutes, Bath needed to extend the lead to secure the victory. With the scrum half making a swift pass to Banahan, who found David Flatman to make a charge inside the Wasps 22, a succession of scrums made the action nail-bitingly tense. As the London contingent were penalised once again, the decision was made to kick for goal and James booted Bath into an eight point lead, as they entered the remaining five minutes of the match..
The South African World Cup winner capped a fine game by landing the final three points of the match to propel Bath back to the top of the table with a 22-14 final score.
15. Nick Abendanon, 14. Joe Maddock, 13. Alex Crockett, 12. Shontayne Hape, 11. Matt Banahan, 10. Butch James, 9. Scott Bemand, 1. David Flatman, 2. Lee Mears, 3. Duncan Bell, 4. Justin Harrison, 5. Peter Short, 6. Andy Beattie, 7. Michael Lipman (c), 8. Jonny Faamatuainu
16. Rob Hawkins, 17. Aaron Jarvis, 18. Stuart Hooper, 19. James Scaysbrook, 20. Mike Baxter, 21. Shaun Berne, 22. Andrew Higgins
15. Mark Van Gisbergen, 14. Lachlan Mitchell, 13. Dominic Waldouck, 12. Riki Flutey, 11. Tom Voyce, 10. Danny Cipriani, 9. Joe Simpson, 1. Tom French, 2. Joe Ward, 3. Tim Payne, 4. Simon Shaw, 5. Richard Birkett, 6. Joe Worsley, 7. Serge Betsen (c), 8. John Hart
16. Rob Webber, 17. Bob Baker, 18. George Skivington, 19. James Haskell, 20. James Honeyben, 21. Jeremy Staunton, 22. Tom Rees
Other results for this match are not available.
Lineups for this match are not available.