Happy New Year for Bath Rugby

Bath welcomed in the New Year with three tries and victory over London Wasps by 30-19, in filthy conditions at the Recreation Ground.

The soggy turf made it difficult for either side to assert themselves, and having taken the lead early in the first half with a try by Joe Maddock, Bath threatened to lose their grip in the second. But they recovered from 16-13 down to finish off a win that Steve Meehan admitted was all the more satisfying given the result suffered away to Wasps at Adams Park earlier in the season.

Within one minute of kick-off, Bath were awarded a penalty when Tom Cheeseman was taken out in the air by Paul Sackey as he claimed a kick from Wasps fly-half Simon Amor. Chris Malone ambitiously went for goal from his own half, but the attempt fell just short. Three minutes later the same problem befell Dave Walder of Wasps as he went for goal when Rob Fidler was penalised for not rolling away.

But when Josh Lewsey was forced to clear to touch after a chip by Cheeseman, the lineout gave Bath good field position. Wasps strayed offside as Bath's forwards made ground, and Malone successfully kicked the penalty. Bath were enjoying the best of possession, testing the Wasps discipline in defence, and another chance soon followed in front of the posts. The Australian fly-half went for goal, and extended the lead.

Moments later, the crowd came to life as Maddock went over in the right-hand corner, the wing set up by Cheeseman's work at close quarters before offloading to James Scaysbrook, who passed neatly out of the tackle to Olly Barkley, and he to Maddock. Malone struck the conversion from the touchline.

Walder narrowed the deficit midway through the half, when Wasps attacked in the Bath 22 area, and the defender failed to roll away in the tackle. As Wasps inched into Bath's half again, Maddock made the most of advantage when they knocked on, skating well into the visitors' territory, and Wasps soon encroached once more, but Malone's kick at goal struck the right-hand upright.

Instead, in ever wetter conditions, Walder kicked the next points, and not just once, for Bath twice conceded penalties for going offside, and Bath's lead had been cut to four points by half-time.

The second half began slowly, but Wasps suddenly put Bath on the back foot after Dominic Waldouck broke through a couple of tackles. They took a five-metre scrum when Bath were penalised and as the scrum disintegrated with the pressure of the drive, the referee awarded a penalty try, which Walder converted easily.

Malone equalised with a penalty, but both sides were struggling to do much with the slippery ball in the mud, until James Scaysbrook burst through the Wasps defence, making twenty metres before he was hauled down. Bath recycled the ball through several phases, and then the back-row player repeated his surging run, and eventually the ball was swung right and Maddock jigged over for his second try.

The conversion by Malone was very well taken, but Wasps struck back immediately after the restart when Walder hit another penalty through the posts. The score was still agonisingly close, but from nowhere, Nick Walshe made a break down the left touchline and fed replacement fly-half Shaun Berne, who skidded over. Barkley's conversion from the touchline was greeted with more cheers, and the clock wound down with Bath the victors.

Meehan, the Head Coach, was delighted with the spirit his side showed: "It was very satisfying after the disappointment of our first match against Wasps earlier in the year. There was something about Wasps coming here that raised the spirits and the ambition of the players, and I think they reacted well to a quality side."

9: Penalty Malone, 3-0
14: Pen Malone, 6-0
17: Try Maddock, Conversion Malone, 13-0
25: Pen Walder, 13-3
38: Pen Walder, 13-6
40+3: Pen Walder, 13-9
49: Penalty Try, Con Walder, 13-16
54: Pen Malone, 16-16
71: Try Maddock, Con Malone, 23-16
74: Pen Walder, 23-19
80+5: Try Berne, Con Barkley, 30-19

BATH: 15. O Barkley 14. J Maddock 13. C Walker 12. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 11. T Cheeseman (Walshe, 36) 10. C Malone (Berne, 75) 9. A Williams 1. D Barnes 2. L Mears (Dixon, 80) 3. T Sigley (Ovens, 61) 4. R Fidler (Beattie, 54) 5. D Grewcock 6. P Short 7. J Scaysbrook (Delve, 77) 8. I Feaunati (captain)

Replacements: 16. P Dixon 17. L Ovens 18. H Louw 19. A Beattie 20. G Delve 21. N Walshe 22. S Berne

WASPS: 15. J Lewsey 14. P Sackey 13. R Hoadley 12. D Waldouck 11. T Voyce (Cipriani, 73) 10. D Walder 9. S Amor (Reddan, 61) 1. T Payne 2. J Ward 3. P Bracken (Evans, 74) 4. M Purdy 5. T Palmer 6. J Worsley (Hart, 64) 7. J O'Connor (Haskell, 9-22; 79) 8. L Dallaglio (captain; Leo, 64)

Replacements: 16. R Webber 17. N Adams 18. J Hart 19. J Haskell 20. E Reddan 21. D Cipriani 22. D Leo

Referee: R Maybank
Attendance: 10,600

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