Bath end Wasps play-off hopes
A try from Jonathon Faamatuainu and 17 points from the boot of Butch James gave Bath a 22-14 success over Wasps.
Last Updated: 01/04/09 11:27pm
A try from number eight Jonathon Faamatuainu and 17 points from the boot of Butch James gave Bath a 22-14 success over Wasps on Wednesday night.
It means the victors join Leicester and Wednesday's others winners Harlequins at the top of the Guinness Premiership table with three rounds of fixtures remaining.
However, victory came at a price for the hosts with skipper Michael Lipman being carried off in the second half with what could be a serious neck injury.
The visitors held a slender lead at the break after England centre Riki Flutey crossed on the half-hour mark but the ever-reliable James kicked two late penalties to seal the points after Faamatuainu had put his side back in front.
By contrast, Danny Cipriani missed four of his six shots at goal to leave his side without a chance of making the play-offs after failing to win on the road in the Premiership since November.
Maddock's mad dash
James and Cipriani traded penalties inside the first 10 minutes before Wasps introduced Tom Rees as a blood replacement for former France international Serge Betsen.
And the visitors' defence looked the stronger of the two with Bath's top try-scorer Joe Maddock looking most likely to break through with a thrilling first-half run.
Cipriani was unable to capitalise as flanker Joe Worsley and lock Simon Shaw gave the visitors territorial advantage, but hooker Lee Mears nearly scored at the other end before failing to find support under the posts.
James inched his side ahead with a second penalty but Wasps made the breakthrough when Dominic Waldouck cut a fine attacking angle to create the space for Flutey to cross unopposed.
Cipriani's kicking woes
Cipriani missed a simple two-pointer but swiftly re-grouped to rifle a 50-yarder through the uprights, although counterpart James was able to cut the deficit to just two points at the end of the half, with the former England stand-off again wayward with another kickable attempt.
However it was all Bath in the second half as the visitors were restricted to a Jeremy Staunton penalty after Cipriani had been relieved of his kicking duties following another botched effort.
Faamatuainu had already put the hosts in front and as Wasps became increasingly desperate for possession, James was able to capitalise on their indiscretions with two further penalties inside the final 15 minutes to deny his opponents the consolation of a losing bonus point.
Victory puts Bath in a strong position to claim a home berth in the play-offs with two of their three remaining fixtures - against Quins and Saracens - at the Rec.