Wasps’ early second-half onslaught proved vital as they survived Bath Rugby’s fightback to secure their third Aviva Premiership Rugby win of the season at Adams Park.
A penalty try and Sailosi Tagicakibau’s score just after the break helped Wasps into a 29-0 lead as Bath were in disarray with Leroy Houston, Davey Wilson and replacement Micky Young all in the bin.
Mike Ford’s side responded impressively with tries from Jonathan Joseph, Young and Dave Sisi as they scored 22 unanswered points to secure a losing bonus point but the hosts held firm to deny Bath a famous comeback.
Despite Joe Launchbury’s absence after the lock was involved in a minor car accident driving to the game, the Wasps pack dominated the set piece and produced a formidable defensive performance to initially subdue Bath’s attacking talents.
Andy Goode kicked 16 points in total as Wasps built up an ultimately unassailable lead and although Dai Young’s side tested the nerves of their supporters, they remain unbeaten at home this season.
Bath’s attacking verve was immediately apparent as Joseph and Kyle Eastmond combined in brilliant fashion in midfield to set up Anthony Watson, only for the winger to be held up short of the line.
The visitors thought they had their first try inside five minutes as fly-half George Ford’s delayed pass to Eastmond allowed the centre to carve through the Wasps defence and dive under the posts.
Yet after consultation with the TMO, referee JP Doyle awarded Wasps a penalty after ruling Alafoti Fa’osiliva was ahead of the ball and had obstructed Bradley Davies’ attempted tackle on Ford.
After relieving the pressure, the hosts then took the lead against the run of play as Goode landed a routine penalty.
Bath thought they had forced Goode into knocking on as he went to clear from his own in-goal area but Doyle ruled the onrushing defenders had arrived from an offside position and Wasps cleared.
Samoan centre Alapati Leiua tore through the midfield, forcing Bath to come in from the side to halt Wasps’ progress with Goode slotting the resulting penalty to make it 6-0 on 21 minutes.
Wasps continued to swarm on Bath and grew in potency in attack with Tagicakibau held up over the line after neatly gathering Christian Wade’s kick through.
It was Bath’s turn to scramble in defence, conceding repeated penalties on their own line with Wasps keeping the ball in the forwards before Goode miscued his cross–kick to an open Andrea Masi.
Yet the No.10 redeemed himself moments later with his third successful attempt from the tee to hand his side a 9-0 lead on 35 minutes.
Bath surged forward in search of a score before the break but had their attacking position undone by Houston’s dangerous tip tackle on Joe Simpson with the Bath No.8 sent to the bin.
Wasps pressed home their advantage when Elliot Daly landed a 59-metre penalty with a sublime strike as the clock ticked into the red.
The visitors’ fortunes worsened shortly after the break when Wilson was sent to the bin for a cynical trip on Nathan Hughes and Goode extended Wasps’ lead to 15 points.
And Bath’s nightmare continued as Wade showed his deft footballing skills only to be hauled down by Young as he prepared to touch down with Doyle given no choice but to award a penalty try and show Bath their third yellow card.
Goode added the extras and soon had another two points for his tally after Ashley Johnson rampaged through the Bath midfield to set up Tagicakibau to finish under the posts on 50 minutes.
Wasps led 29-0 but Bath scored soon after the resulting kick-off as a couple drives set up Joseph to cut an exquisite line and dive over in the corner, but Ford missed the extras.
Young atoned for his earlier indiscretion just after the hour as he darted over from close-range to give Bath their second try and Ford added the simple conversion to make it 29-12.
Bath then gained their third try as they executed a set-piece move to work the ball back to the blindside of a scrum and give substitute Sisi a simple run-in, with Ford adding the extras.
The England fly-half slotted a penalty to set up a tense final five minutes but Wasps absorbed the Bath pressure to run down the clock.