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Wasps undone in lacklustre Premiership clash
BATH 30, WASPS 23.
THE full extent of the damage done by last weekend's capitulation at Twickenham won't be known for a while, but early signs aren't encouraging.
Wasps were flat, uninspired and riddled with silly errors as they capsised again at Bath this afternoon.
In a game they could have won with anything like a repeat of last weeks zip, they chugged along in neutral for long spells and seemed unable to raise the tempo even when Bath began to pull away.
Fly half Nick Robinson epitomised Wasps.
Nothing he tried came off; passes were going anywhere, kicks were going anywhere but into touch and during a fraught second period the confidence was almost visibly draining out of him.
He wasn't alone though, and Wasps will hope this lacklustre display was a hiccup rather than a hangover because that's two defeats from two now - if they don't beat London Irish at home next week the 'here we go again' mindset might be tough to shift.
After the fireworks last weekend, this game got off to a far more humdrum start and with a quarter gone a penalty each from Olly Barkley and Nick Robinson was all that had troubled the scorers.
Robinson had also sent one effort off the tee wide, but for the most part defences were on top and although Wasps had had plenty of ball it was lateral possession rather than the rapier-like stuff that sliced open Quins seven days previously.
In fact, executioner-in-chief Christian Wade might just as well have been sitting in the stands for all the ball he got in the first half. His first touch didn't arrive until the 34th minute, and it was only his third time with hands on ball when he came as close as anyone in a Wasps shirt to breaching the Bath line.
Joe Simpson created the chance with an injection of pace of his own, weaving past four tacklers before finding Wade with a neat offload wide.
The winger flicked the accelerator switch and for a moment it looked like he was going to speed around the covering defence, but Barkley was well-positioned and the chance evaporated.
By then though, Wasps were already 10-3 behind.
Bath hadn't been great going forward themselves, although one counter-attack had shown menace and Wasps needed fine tackles from Hugo Southwell, James Haskell, Billy Vunipola and Tim Payne to eventually draw its sting.
But the stalemate had been broken after 25 minutes when Matt Banahan profited from an overlap on the left to jog over.
Barkley converted to make it 10-3, although a second Robinson penalty just before the interval meant it was still anybodies at the break.
Wasps needed a purposeful start to the second period though, and a Bath penalty 90 seconds after the restart wasn't it.
Barkley did the business again, and just two minutes later a performance that could have gone either way for Wasps suddenly took a huge turn for the worse.
Robinson, whose confidence appeared to be waning during the first half, was the main culprit as he dallied in possession before throwing a panic pass in the direction of Wade.
Even if the ball had found the winger, there wasn't much he could have done with it with opposite number Tom Biggs standing on his bootlaces.
But Tom Palmer was between the two Wasps players, the ball bounced off his chest to wrong-foot all his team-mates and Biggs raced home from 40m.
Barkley's conversion made it 20-6, and the last rites were about to be administered when Wasps snatched a lifeline thanks to a Tom Varndell try out of nothing.
Robinson nudged over the touchline conversion to bring his team back to within a score as the game entered the final quarter, but not even that followed by the introduction of Joe Launchbury and Thomas Rhys Thomas could pep Wasps up.
Wade, Simpson and Haskell tried manfully to inspire their team, but the black and golds were off colour and the result was put beyond doubt when Kyle Eastmond ran through a number of flimsy tackles to score again.
Barkley did the business again, although Wade did scorch over for his third try in two games to at least earn his side a losing bonus point.