|Bath (13) 23|
|Tries: McConnochie, Walker Cons: Priestland 2 Pens: Priestland 3|
|Wasps (13) 27|
|Tries: Umaga, West, penalty Cons: Umaga 2 Pens: Sopoaga, Umaga|
Injury-stricken Wasps edged to a thrilling win at Bath to leapfrog their hosts into fourth in the Premiership.
Ruaridh McConnochie’s try after 90 seconds helped Bath to a 13-0 lead after 10 minutes, but Jacob Umaga’s try helped see Wasps level at the break.
But both their hookers were injured and the match went to uncontested scrums.
Josh West’s try put the visitors ahead for the first time, but Jack Walker’s score put Bath back in front before a penalty try sealed Wasps’ victory.
The win put them two points clear of Bath in the final play-off place with five games left in the regular season.
While a number of clubs fielded weakened sides over the weekend following midweek Premiership matches, this clash of two full-strength line-ups did not disappoint.
Wasps only had themselves to blame as they went behind early as Lima Sopoaga’s ambitious long pass led to a fumble by Malakai Fekitoa, which was gathered up by McConnochie, who sprinted into the corner for his third try since the league restarted.
Priestland added two penalties as Bath led 13-0 after just 10 minutes before Sopoaga reduced the gap with a penalty two minutes later.
Umaga’s 26th-minute try brought the visitors back into the game as he benefited from a superb dummy by Dan Robson that wrong-footed Bath’s defence before he offloaded to his half-back partner, who went on to add a penalty as the half ended level.
But injuries were the biggest talking point of the first period as Wasps lost Thomas Young after just three minutes, former All-Black fly-half Sopoaga on 23 minutes and first-choice hooker Tommy Taylor two minutes later.
Taylor’s replacement Gabriel Oghere lasted just eight minutes before having to go off with a head injury.
Starting loose-head prop Tom West declined to play as hooker in contested scrums, despite his coaches saying he was capable, meaning the game went to uncontested scrums.
Priestland’s third penalty put Bath ahead again soon early in the second half, and Wasps had to defend doggedly on their own line for an extended period before some excellent running rugby set up the position for West to crash over and give his side the lead for the first time in the 55th minute.
An excellent Bath maul from 15 metres out saw Walker score as the hosts went three points up with 12 minutes left.
However, a successful line-out throw by replacement prop Simon McIntyre with five minutes to go saw the visitors awarded a penalty try as Sam Underhill brought a maul down illegally, with the England flanker ending the game in the sin-bin.
Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper told BBC Radio Bristol:
“Disappointed is definitely the word, I think everyone’s feeling it, the boys are feeling it and it was an opportunity today, but we didn’t adapt well enough and didn’t get the points on the board.
“The scrum was taken away, but after that at lineout time we didn’t take the opportunities we had and dominating the moments like we have done at the start of this season.
“There are some disappointed guys in there but it’s not terminal, we’ve still got an opportunity to push for the top four and that’s the motivating factor at the moment.”
Wasps head coach Lee Blackett told BBC CWR:
“It’s up there with one of the best results in terms of the way we adapted.
“Everything was thrown at us, every possible scenario, every injury and just the way we adapted was really pleasing.
“We came here confident. We didn’t want a start like that, I thought we didn’t probably get the field position right early on, we made too many errors and gifted them too many points early.
“But I was really impressed and proud with how we fought our way back in, especially with all the injuries that kept happening and losing two hookers.”
Bath: Watson; McConnochie, Joseph, Matavesi, Hamer-Webb; Priestland, Spencer; Obano, Dunn, Stuart, McNally, Ewels (capt), Mercer, Underhill, Faletau.
Replacements: Walker, Boyce, Judge, Stooke, Reid, Green, Clark, de Glanville.
Wasps: Sopoaga; Kibiridge, Fekitoa, Mills, Watson; Umaga, Robson; West, Taylor, Alo, Launchbury (capt), Gaskell, Willis, Young, Shields.
Replacements: Oghre, McIntyre, Toomga-Allen, Rowlands, Willis, Vellacott, Gopperth, Minozzi.
Referee: Wayne Barnes.