Wing wizard Wade helps Wasps return to winning ways

Wasps 27 Bath 24

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The Independent Online

Assuming whoever is in charge of English international rugby by the time the Six Nations comes around is interested in young, skilful and elusive runners who play the game with pace and imagination – in other words, if there is a change at the top – they could do a lot worse than take a close look at Christian Wade.

The 20-year-old Wasps winger again demonstrated his potential, scoring a brilliant opportunist try to help his team end a run of three consecutive Premiership defeats. With owner Steve Hayes having announced his intention to sell, these are times of uncertainty for Wasps, but the presence at Adams Park of individuals like Wade suggest the future could be bright.

"You can't say he's a star in the making because he's already there," said Wasps director of rugby Dai Young. "There are clearly areas he needs to work on, but he's one of those rare players who excites the crowd."

It was Wade who scored the first try and if there was an element of luck when Hugo Southwell's attempted grubber kick popped up off Michael Claassens, there was none at all in the manner in which the former Wycombe Grammar School pupil, with just inches between him and the touchline, seized on the chance to dance clear before crossing.

Bath's forwards engineered an immediate response, a series of drives resulting in young prop Kane Palma-Newport driving over from close range, before Biggs exposed Wade's defence in engineering a chance for his 19-year-old stand-off Tom Heathcote.

Replays not available to referee Andrew Small then suggested Ben Williams had scored for Bath rather than been held up, before Wade was again involved in ensuring Wasps went into the break ahead, dummying Claassens before taking the ball into the tackle. The ball was recycled, and a Nicky Robinson run-around created room for Tom Varndell to run unopposed in the corner.

The strengthening wind ensured the second half was a less open affair as Robinson and Heathcote exchanged a series of penalties. Some offences were less than obvious, particularly to the Bath pack, whose power engineered a try for Guy Mercer which reduced the deficit to just three points with 10 minutes remaining, but Wasps held firm thereafter.

"We have a lot of automatic selections and to achieve we need more players so some extra investment would be tremendous," said Young.

Bath first team coach Brad Davis had words with Small after the game. "Anyone would feel aggrieved if some of the 50:50s, and some 100 percenters, don't go your way," he said.

Wasps: Tries: Wade, Varndell. Conversion: Robinson. Penalties: Robinson 5.

Bath: Tries: Palma-Newport, Mercer. Conversion: Heathcote. Penalties: Heathcoat 4.

Wasps: Southwell; Varndell, Mayor, Bell, Wade; Robinson, Berry; Payne, Webber, Broster, Wentzel, Birkett, Launchbury, Poff, Hart. Replacements: Filipo for Launchbury (67), Everard for Birkett (73), McIntyre for Broster (80). Not Used: Castex, Lindsay, Holmes, Davies, Wallace.

Bath: Abendanon; Carraro, Hipkiss, Williams, Biggs; Heathcote, Claassens; Flatman, Dixon, Palma-Newport, Attwood, Caldwell, Skirving, Mercer, Taylor.

Replacements: Cuthbert for Williams (40), McMillan for Claassens (67), Beech for Flatman (67), Beattie for Skirving (67), Lilley for Palma-Newport (73). Not Used: Batty, Spencer, Roberts.

Referee: A Small (RFU) Attendance: 6,835.