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.

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Qualified Teacher Required to work with SEN - Nottingham

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are cur...

Senior Infrastructure Analyst

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Infrastructure Ana...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments