Wasps 29 Bath 15: Christian Wade gives England coach Stuart Lancaster a timely reminder

Wasps 29 Bath 15: Wade wonder try gives England coach Lancaster a timely reminder

By
Chris Foy

PUBLISHED:

18:14 GMT, 6 January 2013

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UPDATED:

21:43 GMT, 6 January 2013

Christian Wade gave another timely demonstration of his predatory instincts to help Wasps recover from a calamitous start to secure a ninth home victory of the season and climb into the Aviva Premiership play-off zone.

The 21-year-old wing pounced for a try just before half-time, which put Dai Young’s side ahead for the first time at Adams Park.

They had fallen behind after just 25 seconds, which was all the time it took for Nick Abendanon to capitalise on abject defending to strike on the right, then moments later Tom Varndell was contentiously sin-binned for what was ruled a dangerous tackle.

Solo: Wade changed the game with his brilliant individual effort just before half-time

Solo: Wade changed the game with his brilliant individual effort just before half-time

Wasps were trailing 12-3 after 15 minutes, but rallied emphatically to claim the win which takes them up to fourth in the table.

Their dominance over all-comers in
High Wycombe was maintained on the back of the powerful driving,
tackling and all-round graft of South African flanker Ashley Johnson,
allied to flashes of class from a number of the homegrown contingent and
17 points from the boot of Stephen Jones.

Young had been at pains to play down
the optimism being generated by his young team’s rise up the rankings
and what happened in the first minute was an effective method of
bursting any bubbles. Abendanon gathered Jones’s clearance kick near
halfway and was able to brush past Rhys Thomas and Varndell, before
swatting aside Joe Simpson and touching down in the corner.

Cruise: Chris Bell scored a late try as Wasps won by 14 points

Cruise: Chris Bell scored a late try as Wasps won by 14 points

ENGLAND WATCH

With a Test position on the wing up for grabs, Wasps’ Christian Wade showed his finishing prowess.

Rookie No 8 Billy Vunipola again rumbled around to good effect and outside centre Elliot Daly was dangerous in possession.

Joe Launchbury carried well for Wasps, but scrum-half Joe Simpson had a disastrously untidy outing.

Nick Abendanon of Bath was a lively, try-scoring presence but is a long way down the queue for the full-back role.

As if that wasn’t bad enough for
Wasps, after a three-point riposte from their stand-off, Varndell was
shown the yellow card for upending Horacio Agulla. It was a marginal
call at best.

Referee Andrew Small referred the
decision to television match official David Grashoff – a process which
became a regular feature of an astonishingly prolonged encounter. While
the Wasps wing was in the sin bin, Bath struck again on his flank, with a
line-out catch and strong drive creating the platform for Michael
Claassens to go over. Stephen Donald converted to make it 12-3.

Wasps continued to stumble along, but
Jones struck another penalty to keep them in touch, then Bath lock
Dominic Day was sin-binned for taking out James Cannon in the air at a
line-out.

That offence was punished with
another three points and in the 40th minute the home side forged ahead. A
patient attack through multiple phases was given impetus by Chris Bell
and Daly on the left, before captain Hugo Southwell’s long pass on the
opposite wing reached Wade, who scorched through a gap past the flapping
Donald and held off Tom Biggs to score. Jones converted to make it
16-12.

After the interval, a penalty by Tom
Heathcote, on for Donald, hinted at a Bath revival but it wasn’t to be.
Jones landed two more shots of his own before the knockout blow eight
minutes from time.

Consistent: Stephen Jones kicked five penalties

Consistent: Stephen Jones kicked five penalties

From Nicky Robinson’s brilliant flick
under pressure, Daly chipped ahead on the left, Simpson chased through
to gather and the scrum-half passed off the floor for Bell to score.
Robinson added the extra two points and Wasps protected their lead in
the face of a late onslaught to deny their opponents a losing bonus
point.

Southwell said: ‘We are improving
every week and having got to where we are in the table we want to stay
there, but the Premiership is really tight, so a couple of bad games and
we could slip back again.’

Bath stay eighth and coach Toby Booth said: ‘We forced things too much and made some average decisions.’