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?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Manager (Junior)

Negotiable: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Account Manager (Junior) Account ...

Javascript Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

Solar Business Development Manager – M&A

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Lead IOs Andriod Developer

£80000 - £90000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Applic...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried