Wasps' reserves of strength earn the plaudits

Bath 16 - Wasps 19
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Everywhere you looked at Bath there were wise old birds of the game, but the topic of conversation was the young bucks on the pitch. Unusually young, in the case of Wasps, whose strength in depth in posting their fifth straight win was positively Herculean.

Everywhere you looked at Bath there were wise old birds of the game, but the topic of conversation was the young bucks on the pitch. Unusually young, in the case of Wasps, whose strength in depth in posting their fifth straight win was positively Herculean.

"You did pretty well with half a team," said Jack Rowell, the Bath director of rugby, as he shook the hand of Wasps' head honcho, Warren Gatland. A little later Andy Robinson, the new man in charge of the national side, dropped by to pick up a match video having been at Worcester during the afternoon. "We should have won," Bath's Test centre Mike Tindall told Robinson, who nodded sagely while reserving the right to make up his own mind.

Gatland was justifiably delighted at this latest snook cocked at the vagaries of physiology and there is more decent news as the English and European champions prepare to host Biarritz on Sunday. Of the eight Test players laid low in recent weeks, Josh Lewsey, Matt Dawson, Craig Dowd and Alex King should be available to face the French; Lewsey, England's full-back, is set for a run in the second XV against Oxford University tomorrow.

"We were criticised in the past for not having enough depth to the squad," said Gatland, who may have Simon Shaw back in the second row next week but must wait a bit longer for the return of the centres, Stuart Abbott and Fraser Waters, and well into the New Year for the scrum-half Rob Howley. "I've worked hard in the last two and a half years to develop that strength. We've got to give the youngsters and the players we sign some light at the end of the tunnel. If you can do that and get results, it's fantastic."

One of the recent signings, James Brooks, struck a drop goal after 73 minutes, which gave Wasps a 10-point cushion. Gatland's men had hit Bath early with an interception try by Tom Voyce, and were never headed. Lawrence Dallaglio was superb. "It was the first time in three weeks I'd played without an injection in my ribs," he said. Of the European challenge ahead, he said of Wasps' pool: "It's tough, but Biarritz and Leicester probably think it's tough too."

Bath worked a late try for Chris Malone, converted by Olly Barkley, but they struggled to build quality phases and will have to sharpen up the set-piece before taking on Bourgoin at the Rec on Saturday. The visitors are schooled by one Laurent Seigne, a guru of the scrum if ever there was one.

Bath: Try Malone; Conversion Barkley; Penalties Barkley 3. Wasps: Try Voyce; Conversion Thrower; Penalties Thrower 3; Drop goal Brooks.

Bath: L Best (C Malone, 74); A Higgins, R Fleck, M Tindall, B Daniel (S Davey, 48); O Barkley, M Wood (N Walshe, 52); D Barnes, J Humphreys (capt; L Mears, 58), D Bell (M Stevens, 33), S Borthwick, D Grewcock, A Beattie, I Feaunati, M Lipman (J Scaysbrook, 80).

Wasps: M van Gisbergen; E Thrower, P Richards, A Erinle (R Hoadley, 74), T Voyce; J Brooks (A King, 79), H Biljon; T Payne, P Greening (T Leota, 61), W Green (A McKenzie, 61), J Hart, R Birkett, J Worsley, L Dallaglio (capt), J O'Connor.

Referee: S Lander (Merseyside).

Comments