Bath hold on to beat Wasps
September 8, 2012
Bath made it two wins from two at the start of the Aviva Premiership season with a 30-23 victory over Wasps with the visitors made to pay for more costly errors at The Rec.
The West Country side appeared in control for most of a match in which the pace was continually high as both sides tried to get their backlines running at every opportunity. Matt Banahan scored the opening try midway through the first half and Tom Biggs and Kyle Eastmond also crossed for the hosts, while Olly Barkley was faultless from the kicking tee and added 15 points with his boot.
Wasps' wings Tom Varndell and Christian Wade scored tries for the visitors and fly-half Nick Robinson scored two conversions and three penalties, with the last one at full-time earning them a losing bonus point.
After Barkley and Robinson exchanged early penalties it was Bath who grabbed the early initiative. Their back-line moved the ball left and when Christian Wade rushed off his wing the space opened up for Banahan to run in. Wasps' best chance came went Wade was sent clear on the right wing, but good anticipation from Barkley meant that the fly-half was able to get across and make a try-saving tackle inside the 22.
Robinson's second penalty meant that Wasps went in at half-time only four points down, but Barkley took the difference back to seven points two minutes into the second half after Wasps' pack was penalised at a scrum. The lead was quickly doubled after a mix-up between Robinson and Wade allowed Biggs to kick through and drop on the ball for the home team's second try that Barkley easily converted.
Bath boss Gary Gold not getting carried away%]
Wasps brought themselves back into the match with a try through Varndell. After the Londoners had won a penalty, Bath slowed down in expectation that they would take the three points on offer. Joe Simpson sent the move wide, Marco Wentzel chipped over the defence and Varndell beat Nick Abendanon to the high ball and he touched down in the corner.
Both sides continued to make errors in attack and defence and from Wasps' failure to clear from their own half, Biggs was given the chance to run, but was stopped from adding to his tally by an Elliott Daly tackle. Bath then missed a great chance soon after when Michael Claassens failed to catch a Carl Fearns' offload metres from the line.
With 15 minutes remaining Eastmond wrapped up the win for the hosts. The former rugby league man cut in from the right and powered past seven defenders to dive over next to the posts. Wasps finally managed to find Wade in space and he ran in their second try of the match after they had turned over the ball on the edge of their 22. They were unable to complete the comeback, but Robinson's late kick meant they at least returned home with a vital losing bonus point.
Bath skills coach Brad Davis was particularly pleased with the impact that Eastmond made and believes he can now begin to show his true abilities after struggling with injury since joining from St Helen's rugby league club.
"He is a smart player, we knew that when we signed him," Davis said. "His ability has never been in doubt and the try he scored was a contender for try of the season. Apart from that he has a lot about his game in terms of passing, kicking and running. He is one of the best at the club and we are very pleased with his development."
For Wasps' boss Young it was another frustrating afternoon only a week after his team had let a 27-point lead slip through their hands to lose to Harlequins on the opening weekend of the Premiership.
"We looked dangerous in open play and that was it, we had no patience with the ball and we offloaded when it was not on," he said. "Whenever the game got loose we looked dangerous but we never looked like constructing anything ourselves and Bath did the basics better than us. They had a good scrum and driving line-out and they did what was needed."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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