Wasps inspired by magnificent Lewsey

Wasps 23 Bath 10
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The Independent Online

Wasps clawed their way off the bottom of the Zurich Premiership with a win that could prove the turning point of their season.

Just over six months ago these sides met on the same pitch in the play-off semi-final with Bath winning a thriller. Now, locked together with just 15 points from 10 games, the pressure is, if anything, even greater.

With Josh Lewsey in magnificent form on his return from a fractured cheekbone, Wasps had too much energy and commitment for a Bath side now a pale shadow of the team that played such thrilling rugby at the end of last season.

Much hope was invested in the return of Mike Catt after England duty and he was handed the captaincy for the first time. He suffered from the general malaise, missed touch with his kicks and even dropped passes in a team performance that head coach Jon Callard said was "comfortably the worst'' of the season.

For Nigel Melville, however, it was a vindication of the principles he reiterated after a heavy defeat at Gloucester nine days previously. "We showed today that we hadn't lost what we could do,'' he said. "Lewsey and Joe Worsley made a huge impact as ball carriers. I was pleased with the defence, too.''

Bath's problems were compounded by their lack of discipline and, most obviously, when they lost Gavin Thomas to the sin-bin and conceded two converted tries in five minutes.

The Wales flanker's third yellow card this season will, probably, cost him a one-match ban, but he is already under pressure for the open side place from James Scaysbrook.

Wasps had lost right-wing Shane Roiser with a leg injury in the seventh minute and Martin Offiah, who took his place on the right-wing, played a decisive, if passive, role in the incident 10 minutes later that saw Thomas sin-binned.

Fullback Lewse broke Catt's tackle and, as the cover closed in, tried to get his pass away to the 35-year-old Rugby League legend. Offiah has slowed somewhat since his glory days, but this time his progress was clearly impeded by Thomas grabbing his shirt. Referee David McHugh had no hesitation in producing the yellow card and Wasps settled for a line-out throw from the penalty. So many sides spurn the advantage presented by such situations, but Phil Greening found Ian Jones with the line-out throw and, when the forward drive was brought to ground, a penalty try was the inevitable conclusion.

If Thomas wasn't already a little sheepish, he was feeling a whole lot worse four minutes later when Wasps doubled their lead with a quality try. Greening launched the move from his own 22 metres and Lewsey was involved, twice, before Worsley touched down by the posts.

Bath fullback Perry finally claimed a penalty on 36 minutes, but that was answered by Alex King and Wasps turned round 17-3 ahead. Thomas made amends with a try on 50 minutes but that was due entirely to Greening's reckless long throw near his own line which gave the Bath flanker an easy chance.

Kenny Logan banged over two late penalties to give Wasps the victory they deserved.

Wasps: Try Worsley; Conversions A King 2; Penalties A King, Logan 2. Bath: Try Gabey; Conversion Perry; Penalty Perry.

Wasps: Lewsey, Roiser (Offiah, 8; rep Abbott, 48), Waters, Denney, Logan, King, Wood, Dowd, Greening (Leota, 66), Green, Shaw, Jones, Jenkins, Worsley, Lock.

Bath: Perry, Belshaw, Maggs, Tindall, Voyce, Catt, Cooper, Barnes, Regan (Long, 68), Mallett, Borthwick, Grewcock, Thomas, Scaysbrook, Gabey (Beattie, 60).

Referee: D McHugh (Ireland).

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