Bath hauled themselves out of the mud of the Recreation Ground to splash their way to their second victory of the holiday period with a thrilling Premiership win over Wasps.
They started and finished well, but the stuff in the middle will not have reassured the Bath faithful as their side let things, among them the lead, slip.
The conditions were atrocious with much of the match being played in torrential rain. Under the circumstances both teams did remarkably well to produce some entertaining rugby in front of a sell-out 10,600 crowd which included the England head coach, Brian Ashton. It is unlikely he would have learned too much yesterday as too often sheer luck was the key factor.
The cessation of the rain midway through the second half marked a turnaround in Bath fortunes. Having led for some 50 minutes, they went to pieces and lost their way on the treacherous surface. Wasps clawed their way back into the match, but when Joe Maddock was fed by Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu then stepped in and out to cross for his second try of the match, the home fans began to allow themselves to believe that their boys could pull off the win.
In fact, although Dave Walder, the Wasps fly-half, landed his fourth penalty of the game to reduce the gap to four points, victory was finally clinched deep into added time.
Josh Lewsey, the Wasps full-back, appeared to be caught in two minds as to whether to kick for touch or position. The ball finished up in no-man's land where the quick-witted Nick Walshe scooped it up with a handful of mud and burst linewards before feeding Shaun Berne out on the left. The pass did look suspiciously forward but the officials were happy with it and Bath were also content as Berne slid over for their third try.
Chris Malone, the Bath fly-half, had knocked them ahead with a couple of penalties in the opening quarter of an hour. A few minutes later a rapid series of passes from Andy Williams, James Scaysbrook and Olly Barkley put Maddock clear on the right, and the former Canterbury Crusader cruised over for his opening try, converted by Malone.
However, there then followed a torrid time for Bath as Wasps chipped away at the lead. The weather frustrated the visitors for long periods but some superior scrimmaging at the start of the second half earned them a penalty try and they were back in the game.
Even when Bath levelled things with a further Malone penalty, Wasps looked good for the win. But the lively Scaysbrook made first one break, then a second and it set up the position from which Maddock was able to deal the telling blow.
Bath: Tries Maddock 2, Berne; Conversions Malone 2, Barkley; Penalties Malone 3. Wasps: Try Penalty; Conversion Walder; Penalties Walder 4.
Bath: O Barkley; J Maddock, C Walker, E Fuimaono-Sapolu, T Cheeseman (N Walshe, 36); C Malone (S Berne, 70), A Williams; D Barnes, L Mears (P Dixon, 74), T Sigley (L Ovens, 57), R Fidler (A Beattie, 51), D Grewcock, P Short, J Scaysbrook (G Delve, 71), I Feau'nati (capt).
Wasps: J Lewsey; P Sackey, R Hoadley, D Waldouck, T Voyce; D Walder (D Cipriani, 68), S Amor (E Reddan, 57); T Payne, J Ward, P Bracken (N Adams, 69), M Purdy, T Palmer, J Worsley (D Leo, 59), J O'Connor (J Haskell, 9-21 & 73), L Dallaglio (capt; J Hart, 59).
Referee: R Maybank (Kent).Reuse content