A second-half penalty try proved decisive as Wasps secured their first win of the Aviva Premiership Rugby season with a hard-fought 16-9 victory over Bath Rugby.
After a try-less first half that saw Wasps go into the break 6-3 to the good, the game hinged on a key moment before the hour mark.
Bath scrum-half Nikola Matawalu pulled back Nathan Hughes as the No.8 chased a chargedown over the try line and, after lengthy consulation with his TMO, referee Craig Maxwell-Keys awarded a penalty try and sent the Fijian to the sin bin.
With their scrum-half in the sin bin, Bath could only watch on as Jimmy Gopperth added the conversion and a third penalty to effectively seal the victory.
Late on George Ford slotted two penalties to claim a losing bonus point for last year’s runners-up but they could not get close enough to grab what would have been their fourth win in a row on their travels.
After defeat to Harlequins in their first game of the season, Wasps returned to the Ricoh Arena keen to kickstart their season.
Tom Homer missed an early long-range penalty for the visitors but in a rainy first half low on quality it was Wasps who came the closest to the game’s first try.
Christian Wade hared clear down the right wing early on, chipped ahead and was only denied the game’s first try by an unlucky bounce.
A few minutes later Joe Simpson went clear under the posts but was called back for an accidental offside.
Gopperth kicked two penalties to Ford’s one heading to the interval – Elliot Daly also coming close to the first try when he broke the line but opted to chip when it probably would have been better to keep the ball in hand.
After the break Gopperth missed two penalties as Wasps appeared unable to make their dominance count.
Defences were on top and it was ironic that when the game’s only try did arrive it was after a superb passage of Bath defence.
Stuck on their own tryline, Mike Ford’s troops had showed real bravery and organisation to rebuff the Wasps advances but, having finally secured the turnover, Matawalu’s clearing kick was charged down and the scrum-half pulled back Hughes while he chased after the loose ball.
After a lengthy consulation with his TMO, referee Craig Maxwell-Keys awarded the penalty try and gave Matawalu a ten-minute spell in the bin, Gopperth adding the extras for a 13-3 lead.
In their re-shuffled back line, Ford moved to scrum-half with replacement Rhys Priestland – on for Kyle Eastmond – at fly-half but it was their forwards who struggled.
On the hour mark Gopperth then added a third penalty after the Wasps scrum turned the screw.
In the final quarter Ford slotted two penalties to bring Bath back within a score but Wasps held firm to claim a deserved victory.
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