Bath Rugby fightback held at bay by Wasps

Bath Rugby battled back to secure a losing bonus point at Adams Park this afternoon having fought from 29-0 down to a final score of 29-22 against Wasps.

It was the visitors who enjoyed the more dominant opening stages of the game as they kept Wasps held back in their own 22. Patient build-up saw Anthony Watson go close before Kyle Eastmond scythed through the Wasps midfield unopposed and cantered in under the posts. However the score was ruled out by Referee JP Doyle following consultation with the TMO, and an Andy Goode penalty moments later took the lead for the home side against the run of play.

As the game developed so did Wasps’s control. Bath were working hard to string together phases but the home side kept their defence in check and forced uncharacteristic errors from their visitors. Two more penalties from the boot of Goode extended the lead further in the hosts’ favour before Leroy Houston was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Joe Simpson. With Bath down to 14 men, and missing a powerful presence in the scrum, it seemed inevitable that the next Wasps penalty would be awarded at the set-piece. Elliot Daly stepped up for the long range attempt and, following in his fly-half’s footsteps, was on target with the kick.

Half-time: Wasps 12 – Bath Rugby 0

Bath’s hopes of getting a foot-hold in the game were given another blow shortly after the second-half commenced as David Wilson followed Houston into the sin bin for a trip on Nathan Hughes. Goode took advantage of the offer of points, taking the lead to 15.

With two men down, Bath were having to work hard to keep in touch with the game. Wave upon wave of Wasps attack tested the defence, before things went from bad to worse for the visitors. Wing Christian Wade raced onto a loose ball, and looked to be within touching distance of dotting down for the try, only for replacement Micky Young to tackle him without the ball. JP Doyle immediately ran under the posts to signal the penalty try, Goode added the conversion, and Young joined Houston and Wilson on the sidelines. 22-0.

Sailosi Tagicakibau then crossed to add insult to injury for Bath, and it looked as if the game was out of the grasps of the West Country side. But then Bath started their fightback.

Jonathan Joseph led the charge, scoring with ease out wide on the left. George Ford’s conversion came back at him off the post, but the points seemed to spur the team on.

The scrum and lineout started functioning strongly, and led to the next two scores. Dave Attwood secured the lineout five metres from the try line and the ball was spread wide. Young spotted a gap and darted through, touching down between the posts. Ford added the extras with the on-target conversion.

Then Houston powered away from the base of the scrum and offloaded to Young who found replacement David Sisi in space. The back-row made no mistake close to the line. Ford converted, taking Bath within 10 points. 29-19.

As the clock ticked down, Bath retained possession, and Wasps had few answers. A strong scrum saw the pack secure another shot at goal for Ford, and the young fly-half didn’t disappoint with the long range kick. 29-22.

Bath fought valiantly to try and find a way to break through the Wasps defence, knowing that one more try would’ve led to the draw and a try bonus point. The home side had other ideas however, and controlled the last two minutes of play to wind the clock down and make sure they held on for the win. Bath had to be content with the losing bonus point.

Final score: Wasps 29 – Bath Rugby 22. 

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