Varndell and Lemi combine to plunge Bath into the depths

Bath 15 London Wasps 17
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The Independent Online

How Bath must wish the sun which swathed their home yesterday would take its leave, so they can finally say good riddance to their summer of misery. It was certainly extended yesterday, to almost farcical levels.

In the 20th minute of second-half injury time, Ryan Davis had the chance, with the final kick, to convert Ben Skirving's try and so tie the game. Davis's shot was from the touchline, however, and it drifted wide. And so Bath had compounded their opening-day defeat at Gloucester by losing their first home game as well. Nobody is supposed to look at the Guinness Premiership table this early in the campaign. Well, Bath shouldn't. They are bottom.

Wasps, meanwhile, are top and having won two out of two on the road they will receive a fanatical welcome at Adams Park next week. They deserve it, if only for the cold manner in which they silenced a full house here, a crowd who were clearly desperate for something positive.

That all of Bath was up for it was obvious within four minutes, when the home scrum-half, Michael Claassens, skipped over courtesy of a quick tap and go from five yards out. When Davis added the extras – from wide out - Bath were off and surely running. Not quite. Joe Simpson, in particular, had other ideas.

First, in the 13th minute, the nippy Wasps No 9 made the break which led to Tom Varndell touching down following neat work in midfield from Danny Cipriani and David Lemi. Then, 10 minutes later, Simpson ran a full 70 metres before feeding Varndell on the 22. The England wing scored two on his Wasps debut last weekend and here he was doing it again, expertly stepping inside the full-back, Joe Maddock.

Cipriani was wide with conversion, as he was with two penalties, although with the last strike of the half he was on target. This time it was Lemi who scored after a few audacious dummies. Whatever Varndell can do...

A scintillating half which started so well had finished so awfully for Bath. With their seven-point advantage, Wasps appreciated that they would require rearguard heroics in the second period . So it proved. Not all of it was entirely legal – Tim Payne was shown a yellow card for repeatedly bringing down a five-yard scrum and then, right at the death, saw it upgraded to a red – but so much of it was admirable. Bath fairly battered the Wasps line in the last minutes, but there seemed no way through.

So the minutes ticked on and so the referee, Chris White, rather bizarrely, allowed play to continue. Eventually, two hours after kick-off, Skirving crashed over in the corner. Bath raised their arms in triumph, but deep down they knew and the whole city knew. Davis would have a crack at it, but the chances were not good. Yet more heartache awaited.

Bath: J Maddock; M Carraro, T Cheeseman (J Cuthbert, 63), S Hape, M Banahan; R Davis, M Claassens (capt); D Flatman (D Barnes, 68), L Mears (P Dixon, 56), D Bell (A Jarvis, 68), S Hooper, D Grewcock (P Short, 56), A Beattie (J Faamatuainu, 56), B Skirving, J Salvi.

London Wasps: M van Gisbergen (Walder, h-t); T Varndell, B Jacobs, S Kefu, D Lemi; D Cipriani, J Simpson; T Payne, R Webber, B Broster (B Baker, 72), G Skivington, R Birkett, J Worsley (J Hart 72), D Ward-Smith (C Beech, 60-70; 80), S Betsen (capt).

Referee: C White (Gloucestershire).

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