Match Report: Bath Rugby U18s 52-48 Wasps U18s
George Worboys scored two tries in a comeback win as Bath Rugby beat Wasps 52-48 in a thrilling Premiership Rugby Under-18s Academy Finals Day opener to claim third place.
An end-to-end first half at Allianz Park also saw Alfie Barbeary and Mario Pichardie score two apiece, with James Tunney, Ricky Ma’asi and Tom Bacon also crossing the line to give Wasps a 43-24 lead going into the break.
But Bath shut Wasps out for most of the second half and scored four tries of their own, with a try from substitute Nat Arnold securing the win.
Wasps came flying out of the blocks, taking advantage of an early yellow card for Bath’s Felix Connolly to score two tries within the first five minutes.
After hooker Barbeary forced his way over the line after good offensive pressure from Wasps, a fluid counter-attack doubled their lead minutes later as Bacon finished off an excellent move.
But Bath’s resilience showed as they hit back with two tries of their own – first fly-half Orlando Bailey scored following good work from the forwards, and then hooker Bradley Law as he finished well in the corner soon after.
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Lock Pichardie showed his speed and verve as he restored Wasps’ lead by sprinting past a couple of Bath defenders to finish in the corner.
Centre Max Ojomoh’s quick reactions were on display as he took advantage of a wayward pass to intercept and take the ball between the Wasps’ posts.
Full-back Worboys then crossed after good defensive work from Bath won them the ball back from an opposition scrum deep in the Wasps’ territory.
Tunney then restored his side’s lead after being set up by a swift attacking move to break through Bath’s defensive lines. An instant reply came from Worboys as Bath, once again, stepped up the intensity after going behind.
But Ma’asi exemplified his side’s pace and strength as the forward powered his way through the opponent’s tackles to finish between the posts to extend Wasps’ lead.
Barbeary and Pichardie both scored their second of the day as they took advantage of gaps in the lines to give Wasps a huge lead going into half-time.
A tense defensive period after the break was broken by substitute John Stewart as he scored to get Bath back in the game, before Worboys picked up his double with some nifty footwork and a burst of speed.
A buoyant Bath continued to ramp up the pressure and used their substitutes to their advantage, with Arnold crossing to give his side an unlikely lead.
Wasps were unable to replicate their first-half offensive performance and went down further when Gabriel Hamer-Webb scored to give Bath an unassailable lead late on.
A late try from Tunney following an excellent setup proved to be a consolation.
Bath Rugby: Worboys, Hamer-Webb, Moxham, Ojomoh, Connolly, Bailey, Cook, Guest, Law, Griffin, Richards, Staddon, Hendy, Hastings, Merigan.
Replacements: Stewart, Alexander, Bertinet, Read, Wallrock, Carr-Smith, Chenoweth, Arnold, Lewis, Stanley.
Wasps: Bacon, Panella, Baldwin, Ma’asi, Williams, Atkinson, Mortimer, Nearchou, Barbeary, Cordice, Ademuwagun, Pichardie, Mawdsley, Eckersley, Tunney.
Replacements: Pleasants, Coombs, Sabin, Jakobsen, Fisilau, Monye, Mitchell, Dunn, English, Ramsey.
Tries: Bailey, Law, Ojomah, Worboys 2, Stewart, Arnold, Hamer-Webb
Conversions: Bailey 6
Tries: Barbeary 2, Bacon, Pichardie 2, Tunney 2, Ma’asi
Conversions: Atkinson 4