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Losing bonus for Wasps
Strugglers defeated at Bath but manage to take home bonus point
Wasps failed to secure Aviva Premiership safety after suffering a 17-12 defeat to Bath but a late try-saving tackle from Tom Varndell could yet prove crucial to their survival hopes.
In the closing stages, Varndell brought down Sam Vesty as he was waving to the crowd in premature celebration to ensure the visitors gained a losing bonus point at the Rec.
It was a positive end to what had otherwise been a miserable second half for Wasps as Bath ran in tries through Lee Mears, Stephen Donald and Nick Abendanon after trailing 9-0 at the break.
The result means Newcastle must now deny Wasps a bonus point and win by at least 24 points themselves in the relegation showdown on May 5.
The visitors made most of the early running but Wasps saw off the threat and Nicky Robinson's break at the other end nearly made a try for scrum-half Charlie Davies.
Robinson did open the scoring with a penalty after 14 minutes, while Bath went close at the other end when Donald barged through almost to the try-line and when the ball was swung left, Davies prevented Stuart Hooper from grounding.
With referee Dave Pearson coming down heavily on Bath at the breakdown, the visitors grew in confidence and Robinson took full advantage of their indiscipline to land further penalties on 28 and 34 minutes.
On the stroke of half-time, Michael Claassens surged away from a ruck 30 metres from the posts and full-back Jack Wallace hared across to take man and ball as the scrum-half tried desperately to get the touchdown. But the TV match official ruled the ball had been held up to leave Bath without a point heading into the break.
Bath finally crossed the try line eight minutes after the break as Mears cut through on Abendanon's pass before Donald sent Banahan surging through the Wasps defence. Olly Barkley was just wide with the conversion.
The visitors then took the lead after 54 minutes as Donald hurtled on to Claassens' flat pass and found a gap outside flanker Jonathan Poff to score, with Barkley adding the conversion.
Kyle Eastmond, signed from St Helens six months ago, made a cameo appearance as a blood replacement before Bath brought on five off the bench, including Duncan Bell and Pieter Dixon, who were making their last appearances at the Rec.
Wasps' best chance of the second half came when Wade broke away but Biggs made a last ditch tap tackle, but the away side were now the ones shipping penalties and Dominic Waldouck was sent to the sin bin.
Barkley hit the post with the kick, but Wasps could not escape from their 22 and Matt Carraro's long pass left Abendanon an easy run-in on 72 minutes.
A fourth Robinson penalty put Wasps in bonus-point range soon after and then Vesty foolishly celebrated prematurely, unaware that Varndell was bearing down on him.
The dramatic sequence of events continued as the TV official had to be consulted, with the big screen first showing that the try had been given before being corrected.
Bath, who had not scored a try in their last three Aviva Premiership matches, now stand an even slimmer chance of qualifying for the Heineken Cup after missing out on a bonus point of their own.
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Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com