Throwback Thursday: Three classic Wasps v Bath clashes
Bath Rugby and Wasps meet again in the Champions Cup this weekend, reigniting an old rivalry that has captured the imagination across the last 30 years.
Both sides will want to avenge defeats from last weekend: Leinster got the better of Wasps in Dublin while Toulouse squeezed past Bath at the Rec.
All that bodes well for another thrilling contest this time out, so in honour of the fixture, we take a look at three classic match-ups from yesteryear.
Bath 26-31 Wasps, 2017
You only have to look to the last time these sides met for proof that their match-ups generally produce classics, and this nine-try thriller at the Rec certainly lived up to the billing.
Wasps enjoyed nearly ninety percent possession in the first 20 minutes, Danny Cipriani pulling the strings for the visitors from fly-half.
Wasps were 19-0 up with just 22 minutes on the clock, but Bath fought back – with Rhys Priestland and Jack Wilson both crossing – and the deficit at the break was cut to five points.
Wasps pursued with their attacking philosophy, however, and soon padded their lead when Juan de Jongh crossed early in the second period.
The two sides traded scores in was a gripping affair: Paul Grant gave Bath hope, but Gaby Lovobalavu responded almost immediately for Wasps.
Zach Mercer’s try ensured that Bath would be rewarded with a losing point, but that was all they could muster.
Bath 39-26 Wasps
Another barn-burner, another nine-try thriller, but this time it was Bath who emerged victorious.
They were going great guns in the league and knew that a bonus-point win would move them just a point off top spot after Northampton Saints were earlier defeated by Sale.
📝 PRESS NOTES
Dai Young spoke to the media earlier today ahead of Saturday’s Double Header @RicohArena…
— Wasps Rugby (@WaspsRugby) October 18, 2018
And the home side duly delivered, running in five from as many scorers, leading their rivals from the off.
A 20-5 lead, thanks to scores from Francois Louw and Semesa Rokoduguni, told of their relentless rugby.
Wasps launched a counter-offensive, but their hopes were dashed when Sam Burgess – recently arrived from rugby league side South Sydney Rabbitohs – scored his first try for the club -and in the sport – to wrap up the win.
Wasps 10-6 Bath, 2004
Perhaps not the high-scoring feast of attacking rugby on display in the first two offerings, but what this one lacked in points it more than made up for in occasion.
Picture the scene: the 2003/04 Premiership final at Twickenham – Wasps going for the double after beating Toulouse in the European Cup final, while Bath were looking for their first title in eight years.
It was Bath who dominated the ball in what proved to be a war of attrition, heading into half-time with a slender 3-0 lead.
But Wasps drew level through an Alex King drop-goal before Chris Malone scored his second penalty of the afternoon to restore Bath’s lead.
But it was Stuart Abbott’s score in the corner that decided things for Warren Gatland’s Wasps – Bath could not respond, and Wasps had their historic double.