Match summary – Bath Rugby 31-39 Wasps
Bath Rugby took away a try-bonus point from a game which saw them make a much improved effort in the second half, but Wasps held on to victory at the death.
In a game of two halves, the visitors raced into 25-0 lead before Matt Gallagher’s converted try on his home debut just before half-time.
Jacob Umaga added two penalties late in the first half but it was Bath who rallied and showed a lot of fight to score a further three tries through Tom Dunn (2) and Jonathan Joseph.
Piers Francis’ penalty made it five-point game late on as Bath pushed to win the game but a last-gasp kick from Umaga meant they had to settle for just one point.
Johann van Graan made eight changes to his starting XV with a new half-back pairing in the form of Louis Schreuder and Orlando Bailey both getting their first starts of the season.
Also getting their first run out of 2022/23 at were Miles Reid, Max Ojomoh and Quinn Roux – the latter making his Blue, Black and White debut.
Wasps put both Willis brothers – Jack and Tom – in their back row, while England international Joe Launchbury continued as captain.
Bath Rugby: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Will Muir, 10 Orlando Bailey, 9 Louis Schreuder; 1 Lewis Boyce, 2 Tom Dunn ©, 3 Will Stuart, 4 Dave Attwood, 5 Josh McNally, 6 Miles Reid, 7 Chris Cloete, 8 Richard de Carpentier
Replacements: 16 Tom Doughty, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Aranos Coetzee, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 GJ van Velze, 21 Max Green, 22 Piers Francis, 23 Josh Bayliss
Wasps: 15 Jacob Umaga, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 Sam Spink, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Charlie Atkinson, 9 Will Porter; 1 Tom West, 2 Dan Frost, 3 Biyi Alo, 4 Joe Launchbury (c), 5 Kiran McDonald, 6 Nizaam Carr, 7 Jack Willis, 8 Tom Willis
Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 John Ryan, 19 Tim Cardall, 20 Ben Morris, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ryan Mills, 23 Zach Kibirige
Bath started the game brightly and were the better side in the first 10 minutes and brought physicality in both attack and defence – captain Dunn and Miles Reid leading from the front.
But it was Umaga who grabbed the game’s opening points with two penalties in as many minutes and three tries in quick succession earned Wasps a solid scoreline advantage.
Josh Bassett collected his own kick to dot down in the corner before Jack Willis’ close range burrow was confirmed by the TMO. Scrum-half Will Porter finished off a smart handling move to make it 25-0 on the half-hour mark.
Just shy of the halfway mark, Bath did manage to string an impressive phase together to cross the whitewash. Orlando Bailey spotted a gap and sent a rampaging Will Muir on his way and the wing fed Gallagher in for his first try in Bath colours.
Umaga further added to his tally with two penalties as the first-half clocked ticked down.
Schreuder was unfortunate to be sin binned early in the second half and Wasps made the most of their man advantage with Bassett crossing for his second.
However, the Blue, Black and White were cheered on by The Rec in full voice and captain Dunn soon came through the back of a well-driven maul to score Bath’s second.
Bailey converted with aplomb to close the gap and having found some momentum, and with the impact players putting their stamp on the game, Joseph soon came crashing over the line with a bit of neat footwork to score next to the posts.
Holding off Wasps with hard hits and strong carries, Dunn scored once again from the back of a maul, earning Bath a try bonus point, and hope of a comeback was well and truly in the air.
Francis put Bath in with a chance of securing victory with a penalty, making it 36-31 with moments to play, but with the clock ticking down, Umaga snatched away a second Bath point with a penalty to end the game at 39-31 to the away side.
An encouraging show of fight in the second 40 and something to build for Bath as they head to London Irish in Round 4.
Pol Roger performance of the match