Woeful Wasps on wrong end of a hiding

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Bath's mighty machine is back on the rails thanks to a comprehensive demolition of woeful Wasps yesterday. They picked up five points and moved into fourth place.

Bath's mighty machine is back on the rails thanks to a comprehensive demolition of woeful Wasps yesterday. They picked up five points and moved into fourth place.

Wasps picked up a few more knocks, not least to their confidence, and the next fortnight cannot be over too soon by which time Lawrence Dallaglio is scheduled to return to work.

Nigel Melville, the Wasps director of rugby, was sanguine after his team's second successive home defeat. "There are still 20 games to go," he said, after Wasps had been played off the park.

The first half was tight, in that there was little to choose between the two sides, but there was a lot of loose rugby, gratuitous turnovers and unforced handling errors.

Most of the pressure on each side was brought upon them by their own mistakes. They both had ample time to re-group during the opening 40 minutes, since referee Steve Lander blew up 19 times in that period.

Wasps had included Paul Sampson on their bench after he signed a two-year deal the night before to return to Loftus Road, just six months after leaving the club to play Rugby League with Wakefield Wildcats.

In the event he was not needed, others like Dallaglio were unavailable. Trevor Leota and stand-off Alex King are not expected back until the beginning of October and back row man Peter Scrivener is due to return in mid-September.

Despite the absentees their back row still did well. No 8 Joe Worsley just gets better. He was everywhere, hoovering up stray ball, patching up any holes in the defence and taking the ball up at every opportunity. Unfortunately, out wide their pacy backs did not have it all their own way.

For a start there were occasions when stand-off Matthew Leek ignored their presence and either kicked or took the ball into the most impossible of situations. His service from scrum-half Martyn Wood was patchy and it was remarkable that Wasps were able to create as much as they did in the scrappy first half.

These two will have picked up a few hints from Bath after this though. Bath, after a nervy start in which they conceded two penalties to Kenny Logan, composed themselves and slipped in front when their captain Ben Clarke was driven over from a line-out. Bath had stolen it off a Wasps throw, hooker Phil Greening had a dreadful time with his delivery and generally the Wasps line-out was a shadow of its efficient self.

On this occasion Greening missed every one of his forwards, instead finding Clarke with unerring accuracy. A couple of lusty shoves later and he was over. So was Jon Preston's conversion.

Over the next 30 minutes, both sides occasionally turned on some stunning handling, but those moments were rare. More often than not possession was wasted with the ball getting caught up in a tangle of bodies masquerading as a ruck.

Thankfully there was a second half and a second chance. Bath took it. Almost from the restart they swung the ball wide to the right, then back left, Mike Catt fed flanker Nathan Thomas on the burst and he smashed through.

Wasps were looking ragged. Bath, in contrast, were putting in tackles that rocked the stadium. Adedayo Adebayo had a marvellous match, not only with searing bursts upfield but also with his defensive play. One tackle sent Fraser Waters into the middle of next week, another launched 20-stone lock Simon Shaw into orbit.

Wasps were still not out of it, but when they were penalised for the umpteenth time in Bath's half and Preston landed the 55-metre kick just three minutes after his third penalty had sailed over, the heads finally went down. A minute or so later came Bath's third try. Wood's attempted chip clearance rebounded off Adebayo, prop David Barnes scooped it up and quickly shipped the ball to Matt Perry. Kevin Maggs finished it off under the posts.

Bath picked up the bonus point for scoring four tries when Mike Tindall and Adebayo manufactured a superb one-two out of nothing, which saw the young England centre racing over. A final Preston penalty and the panning was complete.

Wasps: Penalties Logan 3; Drop Goal Shaw. Bath: Tries Clarke, N Thomas, Maggs, Tindall; Conversions Preston 2; Penalties Preston 4.

Wasps: J Lewsey; S Roiser, F Waters (L Scrase, 78), M Denney, K Logan; M Leek, M Wood; D Molloy (A Le Chevalier, 67), P Greening (D Macer, 78), W Green (capt), A Reed (M Lock, 79), S Shaw, R Birkett (J Beardshaw55), J Worsley, P Volley.

Bath: M Perry; R Thirlby, K Maggs, M Tindall, A Adebayo; M Catt, J Preston; D Barnes, M Regan, J Mallett (C Horsman, 75), M Haag, S Borthwick, G Thomas (A Gardiner, 75), N Thomas, B Clarke (capt).

Referee: S Lander (Liverpool).

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