London Wasps gave Bath a lesson in clinical finishing chances at Adams Park on Sunday, racking up seven tries to two in a comprehensive 47-18 victory.
Although Bath had almost all the possession for the first ten minutes of the first half, and with it plenty of time in Wasps territory, they could not bring up any points to show for it. In contrast, almost as soon as Wasps first got into the Bath half, they scored with enviable efficiency. And not just once.
Having absorbed all that Bath had thrown at them, including a drop-goal attempt by Michael Stephenson, two successive penalties took Wasps into the Bath 22, and from a lineout and a series of pick and drives, Joe Worsley popped up a pass for Fraser Waters to score under the posts, and Mark Van Gisbergen converted easily.
Just three minutes later, Wasps capitalised on loose ball after Nick Abendanon put up a high kick which rebounded off a team-mate. First Simon Amor gathered the ball in his half, and made good ground, then slick passing between Ayoola Erinle and Van Gisbergen continued the move, and Edd Thrower just stretched over in the right-hand corner.
Shortly after, Bath's defence breathed a sigh of relief when Tom Voyce was denied a try by a forward pass, but they were stung again when a hasty drop-out by Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu rebounded off Tom Payne, and the Wasps backs pounced, Thrower scoring his second try in almost the same spot as his first.
Obstruction at the restart allowed Chris Malone to attempt a penalty, and so put Bath on the board. But the deficit returned to 17 points when Van Gisbergen kicked a penalty for coming in the ruck from the wrong side.
The second half began rather like the first, but Bath's efforts in the first ten minutes this time yielded three points, through the boot of Malone. But Wasps then resumed their dominance, when Amor saw a chink of light round the fringes of the ruck and broke upfield, running sixty metres before he was hauled down. As Bath scrabbled back to organise their defence, the ball swung right and with Thrower unmarked, the right wing skated over for his hat-trick try.
It seemed like a long way back, but Bath never gave up, and their perseverance was rewarded. David Bory was just tackled into touch at the corner flag, but they headed towards the Wasps tryline with a simple series of pick and drives, and James Scaysbrook thus took the ball over to score.
But it was a brief moment of joy. A midfield break by replacement Danny Cipriani took play back into the Bath half, and as play proceeded to the line, Van Gisbergen did not need Thrower on his right, but scored himself. The clock ticked on into injury time, and Bath endeavoured still to make up for their flaws, but perhaps they tried too hard, and Cipriani, making his first-team debut, latched onto a pass in midfield by Bory, and sprinted a good sixty metres to score under the uprights.
Even so, it was not over, and after a pause for Andy Williams to be replaced, Stephenson caught the Wasps defence on the hop with a quickly taken free kick, and touched down. But it really was Wasps' day, a point emphasised by Thrower's fourth try at the end.
"Obviously the players are upset", Steve Meehan said afterwards, the Head Coach himself clearly disappointed as well. Highlighting two particular areas that require work, he said: "First, our missed tackles. Then, at times we controlled the ball well and put Wasps under pressure, but then turned the ball over, and Wasps were dynamic and quick to react."
13: Try Waters, Conversion Van Gisbergen, 7-0
16: Try Thrower, 12-0
25: Try Thrower, 17-0
27: Penalty Malone, 17-3
33: Pen Van Gisbergen, 20-3
45: Pen Malone, 20-6
51: Try Thrower, 25-6
58: Pen Walder, 28-6
69: Try Scaysbrook, 28-11
76: Try Van Gisbergen, Con Walder, 35-11
80+3: Try Cipriani, Con Walder, 42-11
80+7: Try Stephenson, Con Malone, 42-18
80+9: Try Thrower, 47-18
BATH: 15. N Abendanon (Maddock, 58) 14. M Stephenson 13. T Cheeseman (Walker, 72) 12. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 11. D Bory 10. C Malone 9. A Williams (Walshe, 80+6) 1. D Barnes 2. R Hawkins 3. D Flatman 4. P Short 5. H Louw (Faamatuainu, 70) 6. A Beattie (captain) 7. J Scaysbrook 8. I Feaunati.
Replacements: 16. D Ward 17. L Ovens 18. C Goodman 19. J Faamatuainu 20. N Walshe 21. C Walker 22. J Maddock.
WASPS: 15. M Van Gisbergen 14. E Thrower 13. A Erinle 12. F Waters (Cipriani, 70) 11. T Voyce 10. A King (captain; Walder, 41) 9. S Amor (Reddan, 76) 1. T Payne 2. J Ward (Barrett, 68) 3. P Bracken (Adams, 73) 4. S Shaw (Skivington, 76) 5. R Birkett 6. J Haskell 7. J O'Connor (Dallaglio, 68) 8. J Worsley.
Replacements: 16. J Barrett 17. N Adams 18. G Skivington 19. L Dallaglio 20. E Reddan 21. D Walder 22. D Cipriani
Referee: D Rose (A Rowden, 53)