A Christmas Eve cracker at the Ricoh Arena saw Bath Rugby fall to a 40-26 Aviva Premiership loss to Wasps, but the visitors did secure a vital try bonus point.
Semesa Rokoduguni burst down the wing twice in the opening minutes to put Bath on the front foot, but it was the home side who scored first. A cruel bounce of the high ball evaded Aled Brew, instead falling into the arms of Thomas Young. The flanker charged along the touchline and managed to get the ball away to Christian Wade just before he was tackled into touch by George Ford. Wade was left with the simple task of running the ball in, with Jimmy Gopperth adding the conversion. 7-0.
Wade doubled the lead seven minutes later, collecting the ball from the lineout and jinking his way through the defence to the try line. Gopperth was on target again for the extra two. 14-0.
Bath weren’t fazed by the early lead Wasps had taken, instead turning their next opportunity to attack into a score. They turned the ball over as Wasps looked to make more headway in Bath territory, and Brew broke free down the left wing, and Nathan Catt was on hand to offload to Ross Batty. The hooker, continuing where he left off against Cardiff last time out, sprinted 30 metres, evaded the defence and sailed over for the try. Ford added the conversion. 14-7.
Gopperth added a penalty before Dave Attwood scored Bath’s second try. Ben Tapuai broke through the Wasps defence and the ball was quickly recycled. Quick hands combined with patience saw Bath hunt for the gaps, and eventually Attwood powered his way over the line from short range. Ford added the extras. 17-14.
Tom Homer stepped up for a long-range penalty attempt with just minutes left of the first-half, but the kick drifted just wide, and instead it was Wasps who went into the break with their tails up after scoring their third try – Young sprinting clear and Gopperth continuing his fine afternoon from the tee to add the two points.
Half-time score: Wasps 24 – Bath Rugby 14
That momentum carried through the break for Wasps, with Wade first being held-up over the line (following a superb piece of defence by Homer), then latching on to the end of a darting break by Elliot Daly to score his third – and Wasps’ fourth – under the posts.
Gopperth converted the bonus point try and added a two further penalties before Bath fought their way back into the game once more.
A penalty at the scrum was dispatched to the corner by Ford for the lineout five metres out. The driving maul rumbled towards the line and replacement Tom Ellis got the vital touchdown under a mountain of bodies. 37-19.
One final penalty from Gopperth took Wasps to 40, but Bath were determined to take something from the game, and Tapuai was on hand to deliver the bonus point try. He picked a strong supporting line as Ford dummied and darted his way across the field, collected the offload and stormed his way through the gap to sprint over 40 metres to the line. Ford added the conversion to Tapuai’s first try in Bath colours. 40-26.
It was to be the last score of the game for either side, and whilst Bath hammered away in the closing minutes to get within seven points of the home side, it was not to be.
Final score: Wasps 40 – Bath Rugby 26.