Bath's surprise demise sets stage for grand finale

Barrie Fairall sees an underpowered Bath lose 11-10 to hand the First Division leadership to Leicester

WHILE the vultures hovered low over The Stoop, up in the stratosphere at Sudbury the place was humming as Wasps knocked the champions from their perch to throw open the league title race. However disappointed Bath may have been, to the neutral observer it was just what the season needed after the Five Nations finale.

Having been held to draws by Orrell and Gloucester in their previous two Courage outings, Bath were on the wrong sort of roll when they rolled up here minus so many of their leading lights. And while Wasps held their breath as a Jonathan Callard penalty attempt from half-way whistled down the wind and past the posts, they had just enough collective puff in the final hectic minutes to maintain the narrowest of advantages.

All of which left Leicester top on points difference and Wasps three off the pace going into the last four rounds of matches. A satisfactory situation, then, by way of building to a climax, but not quite so good for the boys from Bath, who, one should note, departed stirred rather than shaken.

Including next weekend's cup semi-final at Harlequins, Bath's objective was summed up in the bluntest of fashions by Brian Ashton. "We just have to win the next five matches," the coach said. Only a Bath man can say this without being greeted by derisive laughter. Indeed, it sounded like an ominous warning to those intent on relieving the West Country giants of their league and cup titles and reading too much into Saturday's reversal.

These champions are never more dangerous than when the chips are down, besides which they are in an angry frame of mind. While there were any number of good reasons for fielding a weakened side here, not among them was Victor Ubogu, the England prop, making a late decision to travel to Hong Kong on business.

John Hall, who was resting a knee injury, had already expressed strong opinions on the subject and Phil de Glanville, leading the side against Wasps in his absence, backed up the feelings at the club when he said: "The players feel let down and we have made our views very clear to Victor. You don't do what he did to Bath." Ubogu may wish he hadn't when he hears news of the side selected for the trip to The Stoop.

Meanwhile, Wasps could bask in victory. And how tense it was, Rob Andrew apparently having left his kicking boots in England's dressing-room at Twickenham. Down wind in the first half, he missed two of three penalty attempts before a big drive by Paddy Dunston resulted in a streaky try for Matt Greenwood.

But they all count and Andrew completed his side's scoring with a second penalty four minutes after the break. It was then a question of hanging on as Bath began to rumble, Callard landing a penalty and then converting Richard Butland's try on the hour following a stunning break down the right by Mike Catt.

Bath's first league defeat since November 1993, ended in a succession of Wasps scrums. Dean Ryan, leading the Londoners by example from No 8 to only their third Courage win over their visitors, happily confessed that by then they had run out of ideas. "This is a huge boost," he said. So, too, was the fact that Wasps whitewashed Bath at all four levels on Saturday.

Wasps: Try Greenwood; Penalties Andrew 2. Bath: Try Buckland; Conversion Callard; Penalty Callard.

Wasps: J Ufton; P Hopley, D Hopley, G Childs, S Roiser; R Andrew, S Bates; N Popplewell, K Dunn, I Dunston, M Greenwood, N Hadley, L Dallaglio, D Ryan (capt), M White.

Bath: J Callard; J Sleightholme, P de Glanville (capt), M Catt, S Geoghegan; R Butland, I Sanders; K Yates, G Adams, J Mallett, M Haag, N Redman, A Robinson, B Clarke, E Peters.

Referee: J Pearson (Yarm, Cleveland).

n Saracens secured the one promotion place to the First Division when, despite fielding a much weakened team at short notice, they overcame Nottingham 32-7 at Southgate.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker