There was a time when no one wanted to come to the Recreation Ground for the right reasons, because they knew what they could expect – a thrashing.
These days the first part of that statement holds true, no one wants to come to Bath, but only because the people approached and short-listed for the job of director of rugby do not know what to expect when they get here.
The latest to reject Bath's advances is the Leeds coach Phil Davies, who announced yesterday that he had rejected an offer of a job worth £115,000 for four years. That snub follows hard on the heels of the former United States Eagles coach Jack Clarke not wanting to be considered for the awkward job of restoring the club to erstwhile glories. Even so Michael Foley, the Bath team coach, insisted that he expected an appointment to be made within a week.
At least whoever takes over will not be faced with the task of doing that from the lower division and yesterday Bath certainly showed a few more teeth than they have bared in the past year. There were encouraging signs that the old West Country giant is stirring even though they have finished in 11th place. Wasps earned themselves a play-off at Sale for the seventh position and their revival continues apace.
But Bath are gradually catching up. They still lack potency and efficiency in certain key areas, such as the set piece, and they need a few hard-heads out in the backs, not too many, just enough to bring in the odd youngster.
Even so there were some doughty and exciting moments from the likes of Sam Cox and Spencer Davey, Tom Voyce and Ollie Barkley. Unfortunately there were also one or two crass moments, the most glaring when Bath had just fought back to level the scores at 17-17.
The fly-half Barkley took a quick throw when the bulk of his side were far upfield. The ball flew to its intended recipient, Rob Thirlby, but the full-back contrived to knock on. The ball was scooped up by Joe Worsley and ended up in the hands of Martin Offiah, one of the most clinical finishers in modern day rugby, and the affectionately named "Chariots" showed Bath a clean set of wheels to score under the posts and give Alex King a simple third conversion – the difference between the two teams at the end.
To their eternal credit Bath battled back and in the fifth minute of extra-time of an already very long match because of earlier stoppages, the replacement hooker, Andy Long, made a close-range touchdown but Barkley was unable to land the conversion.
It was a while before things really got under way, what with the kick-off being put back by five minutes and a worrying period within 40 seconds of it while anxious paramedics and others spent almost 11 minutes immobilising the neck of the Wasps wing Shane Roiser.
Thankfully he was pronounced fit and made a reappearance, although only on the touchline, some 20 minutes later. By then Wasps were away, launched by Paul Sampson's try and another shortly after the start of the second half by prop Will Green.
Bath: Tries G Thomas, Long; Penalties Thirlby 2, Barkley 2. Wasps: Tries Sampson, Green, Offiah; Conversions King 3; Penalty King.
Bath: R Thirlby; S Danielli, S Cox, S Davey, T Voyce; O Barkley (G Knox, 18-31), G Cooper (K Dalzell, 72); D Barnes, M Regan (A Long, 44), S Emms, S Borthwick (M Gabey, 36), D Grewcock, G Thomas, D Lyle (capt), N Thomas (G Delve, 62; Gabey, 74).
Wasps: J Lewsey; S Roiser (M Offiah, 7), S Abbott, M Denney, P Sampson; A King, M Wood (M Friday, 65); C Dowd, T Leota (P Greening, 65), W Green (A McKenzie, 73), S Shaw, I Jones, M Lock (R Jenkins, 73), L Dallaglio (capt), J Worsley.
Referee: S Lander (Liverpool).
* Sale Sharks clinched second place in the Premiership with a six-try victory over Harlequins in front of a full house at Heywood Road. Sale, who needed the bonus point to guarantee finishing just behind champions Leicester and ahead of Gloucester, won 40-11. However, their season is far from over as they look forward to the European Shield final in a fortnight's time as well as the play-offs. Quins' Paul Burke scored after 17 minutes with a penalty but their lead was short-lived as Sale winger Mark Cueto touched down to become the leading scorer in the Premiership.Reuse content