Second half fight back secures victory for Bath Rugby

Second half tries from Lee Mears, Stephen Donald and Nick Abendanon saw Bath Rugby fight back to secure a 17-12 victory at the Recreation Ground over London Wasps.

Bath came surging out of the blocks from the kick-off, an early penalty seeing Olly Barkley go for the corner, instead of taking the shot at goal, clearly signalling their intent. A series of strong pick and goes proved fruitless though, as Wasps forced the penalty and cleared their lines.

Neither side seemed to settle into their stride in the opening stages and it wasn't until the 14th minute that the first points were on the board as Nicky Robinson slotted an easy penalty. 0-3.

When in possession, the home side worked hard to break through the tight Wasps defence, and after Donald had burst through the centre with 20 minutes gone, it looked as if Stuart Hooper had burrowed over for a try. Referee Dave Pearson referred the decision to the TMO, being trialled for this non-televised match, and the decision came back that Hooper had been held up.

Wasps took their opportunities well, as Robinson twice extended the lead before the first half was out with two further penalties.

Bath were desperate to get something from the first half, and it looked as if Michael Claassens had provided that just on the stroke of halftime. After the line-out, which went well all afternoon, had been secured, the ball popped to the South African and he charged through the middle of the pitch. Jack Wallace was the last man in defence for Wasps, and the fullback did just enough in the eyes of the TMO to roll the Bath scrum-half and prevent him from touching down. Half time score 0-9.

As the two sides took to the pitch for the second half, a big performance was needed by the home side, and they delivered.

Hooper, on his 100th appearance for the Club, stole a lineout deep in Wasps territory. The ball came down to Donald, who threw a long looping pass over to Matt Banahan charging through the middle. Banahan was caught, but quick ball from acting scrum-half Abendanon landed with Lee Mears who showed his pace to break through the Wasps defence and score. Barkley missed the conversion, but it wasn't long before the Rec faithful were cheering for the second try of the afternoon.

Another successful lineout saw Claassens pick out Donald in the midfield and the fly-half coasted through the trailing Wasps defence to score by the posts. Barkley was accurate with the boot, and added the two points, giving the home side a slender 12-9 lead with 55 minutes gone.

With ten minutes to go, Dominic Waldouck was shown a yellow card after repeated infringements from the visitors tested the referee's patience, and Barkley lined up the penalty only to see it come crashing back off the post to him.

Two minutes later though the home side made good use of the man advantage as they spread the ball wide following another good lineout and driving maul. Matt Carraro found Abendanon on the wing, and the fullback raced over the score the third try. 17-9.

Nick Robinson clawed back a vital three points for Wasps from another penalty, before, with just a couple of minutes left on the clock, it looked as if Sam Vesty had secured a vital bonus point for Bath. The replacement fly-half raced away and looked to have got the ball down, but a tackle from Tom Varndell caused Pearson to once more consult the TMO. After taking his time with the decision, he initially awarded the try, and the bonus point, only to overrule himself moments later and rule No Try.

Final Score 17-12.

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