Bath Rugby frozen out by Wasps

Bath Rugby suffered Aviva Premiership disappointment at The Rec for the second time in a week as London Wasps claimed an 11-6 victory on a bitterly cold evening.

The hosts enjoyed the better of the play after half-time, but were unable to overhaul the 8-0 deficit they took into the break after Tom Varndell had added a try to Dave Walder's earlier penalty.

Olly Barkley landed two second-half penalties as Bath came back into the contest, but Walder struck again late on to ensure the home side needed a converted try, rather than merely a three-pointer, to emerge victorious.

As it panned out, despite having lengthy spells of possession, Bath were unable to find a way past the determined Wasps defence, who handed the home side a third Premiership defeat in front of their own supporters this season.

Head Coach Steve Meehan said: "I think that we're actually playing better rugby at this time of year than we were last season - and we've got to be realistic about it. A lot of young guys are getting a lot more experience and a lot more rugby than they probably expected to.

"There are some positives to come out of it in terms of the development of our squad - and they're getting more and more comfortable and understanding more and more about the demands of Premiership rugby. There are some positives there and it's early days."

Bath, with Lewis Moody, Shontayne Hape, David Wilson and Matt Banahan on England duty - and another host of frontline players, including Butch James and Luke Watson sidelined through injury - fielded a team showing four personnel changes and two positional switches from the side beaten 17-13 by Saracens six days earlier.

Jack Cuthbert came into the back-line, while Aaron Jarvis, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe and Man of the Match, Guy Mercer, were introduced to the pack, with Ben Skirving moving from No 8 to blindside flanker and Simon Taylor from openside flanker to No 8.

Wasps enjoyed the better of the running in the opening 40 minutes, after surviving an early scare when Nick Scott was unfortunate to see his chip ahead run into touch a metre or so from the try-line before he was able to gather possession.

Another Scott kick had earlier forced Richard Haughton to dive over and ground the ball in his own in-goal area under pressure - but Wasps' confidence grew as the half wore on.

Haughton sparked a positive move, which ended when Bath forced a penalty as they defended close to their own line, before Walder kicked the first points of the evening with a 21st-minute penalty.

The visiting fly-half then failed with a long-range penalty, before Bath had to be alert to stop Wasps after Joe Worsley had punched a hole into the 22. Bath defended well to keep out another Wasps attack after good link play between Steve Kefu and Ben Jacobs - but the visitors soon conjured what proved to be the only try of the match.

Walder sent a delightful chip toward the Wasps left wing, which Varndell attacked with menace and relish, collecting the ball and sprinting in to score. Walder missed the conversion - and then Barkley was unable to find the posts with a penalty from halfway as the opening period drew to a close.

Bath's play improved after the break, with Barkley cutting the deficit to five points following an offside, before a lengthy spell of Bath pressure - which included three close-range scrums - ended with the hosts just two points adrift after another Barkley score.

The home side entered the final quarter of the game within touching distance of Wasps - but when Walder was presented with another penalty eight minutes from the end, he made no mistake from 25 metres to give his team an 11-6 lead.

Bath spent the majority of the final minutes of the game trying to pierce a hole in the Wasps defensive line - but Tony Hanks' team held firm in the face of increasing pressure to hold on for a victory that frustrated the home side.

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