London Wasps flanker Ashley Johnson runs at Bath Rugby No.9 Mickey Young
22 February 2014, 03:59 pm ::
By Ric Sumner
Bath Rugby 32 London Wasps 25
Bath Rugby extended their record Aviva Premiership unbeaten run at the Rec to 12 games in a seven-try thriller with London Wasps.
Tries from Anthony Watson, who grabbed two, Nick Abendanon and Kyle Eastmond earned the home side a try bonus point after a match in which momentum swung widely from one side to another.
Wasps were never outfought, taking advantage of Bath uncertainty on the flanks to cross three times through Nathan Hughes, Will Helu and Elliot Daly.
But it wasn't enough as they succumbed to a fourth straight defeat in all competitions despite dominating the second half.
Tom Heathcote, deputising at fly-half for George Ford who was on England duty, was given an early chance to get Bath on the scoresheet when referee Matthew Carley blew up for a late tackle on Ollie Devoto, slotting a straightforward penalty from in front of the posts.
Wasps attacked with vigour but good defence from the home side held them at bay. And Bath were rewarded with another penalty, only for Heathcote to momentarily lose his radar and send the ball wide of the posts on six minutes.
However it wasn't long before the home fans were celebrating, Bath working a quick scrum out to the backs where it was moved swiftly from Nick Abendanon to Kyle Eastmond and then to Anthony Watson who darted over the line out wide.
Heathcote missed with a tricky conversion, and it remained 8-0 after 13 minutes.
Shortly after Joe Carlisle was given the chance to reduce the deficit when Wasps were awarded a penalty and he made no mistake, slotting it between the uprights.
But despite Bath having the better of possession Carlisle was keeping Wasps in the game off the tee, nailing another penalty after Bath were pinged at the breakdown.
Then a late shoulder barge from Andrea Masi on Heathcote allowed the No.10 to send the ball down the line and from an attacking lineout the Bath forwards drew another penalty 20 metres out that Heathcote converted.
When Ashley Johnson broke the Bath defensive line it looked as though the visitors might take the lead but with a two-man overlap but Watson intercepted the ball and raced away to score under the posts. Heathcote knocked over the extras and Bath had a 12-point advantage after 28 minutes.
Wasps refused to lie down and they hit back quickly when scrum-half Charlie Davies took a quick tap penalty in the Bath 22 and the ball was moved wide quickly to Nathan Hughes, who touched down in the corner. Carlisle converted from out on the touchline and the gap was down to seven points.
But Bath hit back straight away, working the ball into the Wasps 22 where a great offload from the floor by Leroy Houston sent Abendanon over in the corner.
Heathcote was successful with a tricky conversion and Wasps, who had Tommy Bell on as a concussion replacement for Elliot Daly, found themselves 25-13 down. Carlisle had a late chance at the end of the first half to reduce the gap but his penalty went wide of the sticks.
From the restart a great clearing kick from Carlisle put Bath under pressure in their own 22, coughing up a straightforward penalty that Carlisle surprisingly missed the posts with.
But Wasps were finding space out wide and good work in midfield from Masi saw the ball moved to Will Helu who used good leg strength to power over out wide, Carlisle knocking over the extras.
Kyle Eastmond struck straight back to claim the bonus point for the home side, Devoto offloading to the Eastmond cleverly after a great break from replacement Peter Stringer. Heathcote squeezed the conversion inside the posts and Bath added to their lead.
Yet Wasps roared up the other end and confusion in defence allowed the restored Daly to dive over out wide, Carlisle sending the conversion wide.
Heathcote missed with another penalty before Stringer nearly claimed a fifth Bath try, the TMO ruling the No.9 had knocked the ball on in the build-up to the try.
Despite further Wasps pressure they were unable to force their way over the line, Bath holding on to claim their first Aviva Premiership double over the Londoners since the 2008/9 season.