London Wasps 29-15 Bath, Aviva Premiership
Wade dazzles as Wasps power past Bath
January 6, 2013
London Wasps climbed into the top four of the Aviva Premiership with a 29-15 victory over Bath at Adams Park on Sunday.
Christian Wade offered England head coach Stuart Lancaster a timely reminder of his talents with a superb solo try that put his side on course for victory. The 21-year-old wing danced his way past three Bath defenders on the stroke of half-time to turn the game in the Adams Park outfit's favour - taking them into the Aviva Premiership play-off places in the process.
Wade's sixth Premiership try of the season will have been noted by Lancaster, who announces his Six Nations squad on Wednesday, but it will have also delighted his domestic boss Dai Young who was celebrating Wasps' sixth win in eight games.
Bath had taken the early initiative with a first-minute try from Nick Abendanon and Michael Claassens' effort shortly afterwards, but Wade's trickery and Stephen Jones' majestic right boot - which gathered 17 points in total - proved too much with Chris Bell's late effort the icing on the cake.
Bath got off to the best possible start with a try after 30 seconds for Abendanon in the corner. The full-back ran down the right touchline, evading two challenges, after catching Jones' high kick on the halfway line. Stephen Donald missed the tough conversion and moments later the visitors were penalised for offside and Jones added three points.
The game, already brimming from a pulsating start, erupted when Tom Varndell was sin-binned for an alleged spear tackle on Horacio Agulla. And, after Jones missed a penalty, Bath capitalised on the one-man advantage and Wasps fell further behind on 15 minutes when Claassens bundled over in the corner. Donald converted from the touchline for a 12-3 lead.
Wasps' Christian Wade forces his way over for a try at Adams Park © PA Photos
Jones, returning to the Wasps starting line-up, struck an easy penalty on 21 minutes and shortly after he notched another to bring the hosts within three points of Bath. Dom Day was then sin-binned for bringing down James Cannon in the air but it was Bath who had the next scoring opportunity. Donald, though, missed his penalty.
Despite the man deficit, Kyle Eastmond nearly forced his way in but Elliot Daly cleared to touch just 20 yards from the line. Daly then missed a penalty before Wade's moment of magic, beating three challenges on his way into the corner after Jones' long pass. Jones converted from the touchline on the Bath 22 for a 16-12 half-time lead.
Within two minutes of the restart Bath had reduced the arrears to one point, with Tom Heathcote, who had replaced Donald at the break, slotting a penalty. Wasps responded well though, a prolonged attack ending with Billy Vunipola driving his way towards the line only for his effort to be ruled out by the TMO.
The dynamic No.8 failed to ground the ball but his disappointment was eased on 54 minutes when Jones added his fourth penalty of the game. The hosts were beginning to exert some territorial dominance and had men over from another break, but this time Ashley Johnson was halted in his tracks by a forceful challenge from compatriot Francois Louw.
Louw was then at the heart of the next incident, snaffling the ball well only for team-mate Dave Wilson to be penalised, with Jones making them pay with another three points to take Wasps seven points clear at 22-15.
Replacement Nicky Robinson missed the chance to put breathing space between the sides with a 69th-minute penalty but Bell's late try, after a neat offload from Joe Simpson, sealed the victory, with Abendanon's sin-binning for a trip ending his afternoon on a sour note.
Wasps forward James Haskell insists his side will not be getting away by their lofty status. "It's exciting [that we're in the top four], but the good thing is that our feet will be firmly back on the floor [next week]," said Haskell. "We are pleased as a team but we know there's a lot of work to do. There's a long way to go.
"We've got a new team with a lot of young talent, with great new signings like Ashley Johnson. In the Premiership slow and steady wins the race and we've just got to keep going and look at our games and keep on improving."
Bath boss Gary Gold refused to accept his side's play-off hopes were fading fast. "I think the table is quite tight this year, if you look at it if you're a pessimist and see the glass half empty you could think [we're out of the top four contention]," he said. "But we have a good group of rugby players, the attitude is right and I'm certainly not going to be giving up on the top four going forward.
Bath's Nick Abendanon skips past Wasps' Joe Simpson for a try © PA Photos
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