Bath Rugby battled to a bonus point win over London Wasps this afternoon in a seven try thriller at the Recreation Ground, final score 32-25.
The home side started well, and some strong early pressure saw them awarded a penalty, which Tom Heathcote duly sent between the posts. He had a chance to double the lead minutes later, but the shot drifted wide. 3-0.
The first try of the game came about five minutes later, after a strong scrum from Bath set the backs flying. Nick Abendanon took the ball forward and offloaded quickly to Kyle Eastmond, who in turn found Anthony Watson outside him. The winger evaded the covering defender to touch down out wide. 8-0.
Wasps got back into the game with two successive penalties from Joe Carlisle, but Heathcote extended the lead to five points with a shot on target of his own.
The visitors looked dangerous on the attack, and when scrum-half Charlie Davies saw Will Helu out wide, it looked as if they would be in for a try of their own. Watson had other ideas however, deftly intercepting the ball on the Bath 22 and sprinting away to score between the posts. Heathcote added the extras to set up a 12 point lead after just under half an hour of play. 18-6.
In what was quickly becoming an absorbing game, Wasps were quick to get a try of their own. A tap penalty saw the ball go sailing through the hands and out to Nathan Hughes, who dotted down in the corner. Carlisle added the conversion. 18-13.
The see-saw nature of the game continued though, as from the kick-off the home side were scoring once more. A Wasps knock-on saw Bath gain possession, and after a neat offload off the floor from Man of the Match Leroy Houston, Abendanon flew over for the try. Heathcote was on target with a tricky conversion.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 25 – London Wasps 13.
Wasps came out strong in the second half, and whilst Carlisle missed a shot at goal, winger Helu made up for it minutes later with a try. The fly-half was this time accurate with the conversion, narrowing the gap to just five points in an enthralling game. 25-20.
Bath were quickly back on the attack. Heathcote chipped over, which was gathered by replacement Peter Stringer. The scrum-half broke free and offloaded to Ollie Devoto, who then passed out the back of his hand to the supporting Eastmond. The centre stepped inside, away from the covering Wasps defence and went over for the bonus point score. Heathcote just squeezed the conversion inside the posts to add the extra two points. 32-20.
Neither side were content to just sit back, and it was the visitors who had the final score of the day as Elliot Daly worked through the gap in defence to score. 32-25.
There was nearly a fifth try for Bath, only for the TMO to rule that a knock-on had occurred under the pile of bodies on the line.
Wasps kept attacking, as they had all game, but a resolute Bath worked hard to keep them out until the final whistle, which came as Stringer sent the ball sailing into touch.
Final score: Bath Rugby 32 – London Wasps 25.