Planet Rugby

Wasps not safe just yet

21st April 2012 16:04

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Michael Claassens

Michael Claassens: Led from the front

Bath saw off Wasps 17-12 at the Rec but the Londoners clawed back what could be a vital bonus point in the final relegation reckoning.

The first half was tight and tense as expected but the visitors were scrapping for their Premiership lives and that desire and hunger shone through.

The Wasps pack dominated their opposite numbers in the scrum and fly-half Nicky Robinson kicked almost impeccably, hitting the target with three penalties to put his team 9-0 ahead at the break.

Bath did threaten in the final seconds of the half, but just as Michael Claassens looked like he was about to score the game's opening try, 20-year-old full-back Jack Wallace stepped up to make a crucial tackle and preserve his side's nine-point lead.

The home side came out firing in the second half though after what was no doubt a rather frank team-talk and - after a period of concerted pressure - veteran hooker Lee Mears showed that he still has some pace left before touching down out wide.

Olly Barkley failed with the conversion but Wasps were firmly on the back foot and they ceded their slender advantage moments later as All Black fly-half Stephen Donald went over directly underneath the posts to give the home crowd something to cheer.

The relegation-threatened Londoners did eventually see some of the ball and create a couple of chances but the West Country outfit still looked more dangerous. And, as the match entered the last ten minutes, Nick Abendanon took advantage of an overlap created by the absence of Dominic Waldouck, who had been yellow-carded a few minutes earlier for handling on the floor, to make it 17-9 and put the visitors out of bonus point range.

But with five minutes remaining, the reliable Robinson kicked his fourth penalty of the afternoon to give Wasps that crucial bonus point that means Newcastle will almost certainly need to get a try bonus point as well as the win and deny the London outfit a losing bonus point in their encounter next week if they are to escape the drop.

Wasps had to survive a close video replay decision at the death as Sam Vesty went over but Tom Varndell was the hero, holding him up over the line, and the defence held out to secure what could be the deciding point in one of the most thrilling Premiership relegation battles in recent years.

Rugby Union betting odds

The scorers:

For Bath:
Tries: Mears, Donald, Abendanon
Cons: Barkley

For Wasps:
Pens: Robinson 4

Yellow cards: Waldouck (Wasps)

Bath:15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Matt Carraro, 13 Matt Banahan, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Josh Ovens, 5 Ben Skirving, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 David Wilson, 2 Lee Mears, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 David Flatman, 18 Duncan Bell, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Sam Vesty, 23 Kyle Eastmond.

Wasps: 15 Jack Wallace, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Dominic Waldouck, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Nick Robinson, 9 Charlie Davies, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 Sam Jones, 5 Richard Birkett (c), 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Ben Broster, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Vladislav Korshunov, 17 Zac Taulafo, 18 Simon McIntyre, 19 Ross Filipo, 20 Tinus Du Plessis, 21 Nic Berry, 22 Chris Mayor, 23 Lee Robinson.

Referee: David Pearson

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