Bath give Wasps brush-off

Bath 36 Wasps 12
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The Independent Online
THERE had been some strange hints of fallibility at Bath before yesterday's game. The odd defeat and close victory led to talk of late- season jitters. There might be a repeat of last season's slip-up, some were saying, with Bath losing the title when winning bonuses were all but banked.

It was all a false rumour. Wasps learnt the rude truth yesterday: the talk was no more than a gross calumny on the most powerful club in Britain.

The London side found themselves outclassed, run ragged in the backs and out- powered in the pack. Wasps were heroic in defiance but simply didn't have the arsenal to outgun Bath's 11 internationals.

Bath signalled its route in the first five minutes with two lightning tries, the first as their hooker Graham Dawe broke through and the second when Jon Sleightholme strode up the wing.

Wasps did manage to regroup with a rout staring them in the face, but it was only to delay matters. The Bath prop Kevin Yates increased the deficit when he rumbled over in close combat before the centre Phil de Glanville sliced through the Wasps' defence, running from the halfway line to score.

Wasps' captain Lawrence Dallaglio ripped up his side in trying to stop the rot in the second half. He grows as a player and a captain by the game. Yesterday, it was he that stopped the Wasps' effort collapsing entirely.

He was also the victim of some vigorous raking for which his England back-row team-mate Ben Clarke was penalised.

With Dallaglio in the van Wasps made some progress in the second half, and finally there were a couple of consolation tries for them: first, the scrum-half Andy Gomarsall darted from a maul to cross, then Bath conceded a penalty try by collapsing a scrum on the line.

But it was very much a case of Wasps resisting pressure that was ultimately to prove uncontainable. Bath exploded again with a burst of searing attacks, and the scrum-half Andy Nicol turned the pressure into points with a late try.

John Callard kicked four conversions and a penalty to make Bath's margin more than safe. The home side's five tries to Wasps' two tells a true story of the game. Only the London side's tenacity and strength of character contained Bath's might.

Wasps are at present rebuilding their side after being stripped by defections. On yesterday's evidence they have much work to do, perhaps involving wholesale demolition before starting afresh.

Bath, meanwhile, march on. Only a fool would spend money on a Leicester victory dinner.

Bath: J Callard; J Sleightholme, P de Glanville (capt), M Catt, A Adebayo; R Butland, A Nicol; K Yates, G Dawe, V Ubogu, M Haag, N Redman, A Robinson, S Ojomoh, B Clarke.

Wasps: J Ufton; P Hopley, D Hopley, A James, S Roiser; G Gregory, A Gomarsall; D Molloy, K Dunn, I Dunston, M Greenwood, R Kinsey, M White, L Dallaglio (capt), P Scrivener.

Referee: Brian Campsall (Yorkshire).