Superb Wasps sting Bath
A stunning second half performance from Wasps saw them come from behind to beat Bath 42-34 at the Rec.
By Joe Drabble
Last Updated: 16/02/08 11:36pm
A stunning second half performance from Wasps saw them come from behind to beat Bath 42-34 at the Rec and keep their slim title hopes alive.
Three tries in the space of 15 minutes from Josh Lewsey (2) and James Haskell stunned Bath and set the visitors up for a remarkable comeback.
Bath led 20-13 at the interval after Andrew Higgins scored with a fine solo run and Nick Abendanon clawed his way over late on, but Wasps flew out of the traps to blitz past Steve Meehan's men.
Danny Cipriani scored after a moment of individual brilliance in the first half and Dan Leo put the game beyond doubt with a late score. Cipriani also struck three penalties and four conversions for Shaun Edwards' men.
Bath claimed late tries through Eliot Faimono-Sapolu and Daniel Browne to complete the scoring in a fantastic exhibition of Guinness Premiership rugby.
In a game described before kick-off as 'must-win' by Wasps coach Edwards, the visitors were dealt a late blow before the start of the game as Paul Sackey failed a late fitness test meaning a re-call for Rob Hoardley on the wing.
Shaun Berne got the game underway in-front of another sell-out crowd at the Rec and the hosts immediately gave their fans something to cheer.
After Tim Payne pulled down a scrum Ollie Barkey notched his first points of the afternoon with a confident kick to give Bath an early lead.
That was extended just two minutes later. Higgins came off his wing and latched onto Barkley's neat pass. The nippy winger burst through the heart of the Wasps defence and after his pass inadvertently bounced off Tom Palmer he picked up the pieces to complete the score.
Barkley converted as Meehan's men raced into a 10-0 lead, with Wasps players, it seemed, still in the changing rooms.
The visitors eventually got into their stride and after Cipriani struck two penalties in quick succession he produced a moment of pure quality.
The recently capped England fly-half deftly chipped the ball over a static Bath backline, latched onto his own kick and skipped past Abendanon's weak tackle to register Wasps' first score.
It was a moment of brilliance from the Wasps number ten who slotted over the resulting conversion to bring his side level at 10-10 with only 15 minutes played.
Late replacement Hoadley was forced off the field mid-way through the first-half with a painful looking knee injury - he was replaced by Mark Van Gisbergen.
Bath mounted a siege on the Wasps try-line, and only a last-ditch tackle from Josh Lewsey prevented Shaun Berne scoring, the England full-back knocking the ball out of Berne's hands with the line beckoning.
Barkley and Cipriani exchanged penalties before Bath snatched the lead with a late Abendanon score.
With the last action of the first-half the visitors' full-back wriggled his way over the line after Crockett had found a gap. Barkley converted to end a scintillating 40 minutes of rugby as Bath went in 20-13.
Wasps flew out of the traps at the start of the second half and restored parity almost immediately. Superb attacking play from Joe Worsley resulted in Tom Palmer slipping through Haskell, who burst under the posts to score.
Whatever Edwards said to his side at the interval certainly worked and Wasps extended their lead on 47 minutes with a flowing move across the field.
The ball was worked from one wing to the other and David Doherty timed his pass to Lewsey to perfection and the England international sped over in the corner.
Cipriani missed the tough conversion but made amends with a well-taken penalty to put Wasps 28-20 ahead after 50 minutes.
The wave of Wasps pressure didn't relent and Lewsey finished off another wonderful move to put the visitors firmly in command.
Haskell made the break, and when McMillan found Doherty, the clever winger linked up with Lewsey once more and the Wasps number 15 powered over as Edwards side stormed further ahead.
Cipriani converted to put Wasps 35-20 up to stun the Rec and put the visitors firmly in command.
Bath fought-back well but the Wasps back-line was proving too strong of a barrier to break down.
Jonny Faamatuainu and Fuimaono-Sapolu were introduced to the fray and immediately made an impact. Faamatuainu broke clear and with Michael Lipman on hand the England flanker set-up Fuimaono-Sapolu, who brought the hosts back into the game.
Barkley fired over the conversion to make it 35-27 with 13 minutes remaining.
However, the game was sealed with seven minutes remaining through substitute Leo as Wasps' spell of forward bombardment was eventually rewarded when he bundled his way over.
Bath did pick up a bonus point as Browne went over late on, but Wasps' second half display was a joy to behold.