Wasps cross three times in vibrant defeat to Bath

Bucks Free Press: Dai Young Dai Young

FOR the second time this season Wasps have found Bath too hot to handle, but while they were limp-wristed in Wycombe the black and golds were anything but in a manful and vibrant display at The Rec this afternoon.

Nathan Hughes, Will Helu and Elliot Daly all breached the Bath line in what was arguably Wasps' best attacking display of the season, but the hosts scored three tries in the first half alone and another after the interval saw them to a thrilling 32-25 victory.

In the end they deserved it, but Wasps played their part in an absorbing match and have plenty to be encouraged about despite sliding to a third Aviva Premiership defeat in a row.

It leaves them off the pace in the race for the top six, but they have Sale at home next weekend and while they were a team flatlining this time last year, when they ended their season with seven league losses in a row, this time around and on this evidence, Dai Young's players appear to have plenty of life left in them.

It was the start that killed them this week – much as it did against London Irish last weekend.

They were 8-0 after 11 minutes and it would have been worse if Tom Heathcote hadn't missed two of his first three kicks at goal.

Wasps dragged themselves back into it with two Joe Carlisle penalties, but an intercept try stopped their momentum stone dead.

Heathcote had nudged Bath back into an 11-6 lead with a penalty after 26 minutes but Wasps rallied strongly and were putting the phases together deep inside the opponents half.

A try then and they could have shrugged off their slow start and gone in front, but instead it was Bath who scored again with a long-range try that landed like a punch to Wasps' solar plexus.

One loose pass was all it took, and Anthony Watson intercepted before racing the best part of 80 yards to the line. The conversion left Wasps 18-6 behind and probably fearing the worst.

However, Young's men came again and after Carlisle's penalty to the corner set a platform, the fast-thinking Charlie Davies turned territory it into points as his quick tap ended with Hughes driving over.

Carlisle converted from the touchline to cut the gap to five points and suddenly it was game on again.

But only for a moment, as yet again they were cut down at the knees just as they looked to build up a head of steam. This time it was a mistake direct from the restart that hurt Wasps, as a knock on gifted the home side possession and they made the most of it to send Watson over for his second.

The conversion stretched the lead to 25-13, and that's how it remained after Carlisle sent his penalty wide with the last kick of the half.

A second penalty miss just after the turnaround didn't help either, but Daly kept Wasps on the front foot with a typical surge into enemy territory and they were rewarded for their perseverance after going through the phases to send Helu galloping over from Andrea Masi's missed pass.

However, the pendulum in this ding dong game hadn't stopped swinging and within five minutes it had moved back decisively Bath's way with Kyle Eastmond taking Peter Stringer's chip to cross for their fourth try.

Wasps must have wondered what they'd done wrong to find themselves 12 points down again with a quarter remaining, but they wouldn't go home empty-handed. More superb graft from the pack softened Bath's line and when the ball was spun wide Daly found room to fly over. That got them back in bonus point territory, and they made sure they kept it by keeping Bath at bay during a frantic last ten.

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