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Bath leave it late

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Bath leave it late to beat Wasps

By PA Authors
By Online Editors

Bath scored three tries in the last six minutes to claim a bonus-point 29-17 victory against Wasps.

Zach Mercer crossed twice while Joe Cokanasiga also touched down as Bath boosted their top-six hopes in the Gallagher Premiership.

Wasps looked to be on course for victory after leading 17-10 at the break but could not add to their score in the second half.

Bath drew level with six minutes to play before going on to score two more tries and give outgoing director of rugby Todd Blackadder the Recreation Ground send-off he asked for.

Bath took the lead inside four minutes as Jonathan Joseph handed off Wasps forward Nizaam Carr in midfield after centre partner Jamie Roberts had set up second-phase ball from a line-out just outside the Wasps 22. Freddie Burns converted from wide out.

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Carr made amends 10 minutes later when Joe Simpson made the most of unpromising line-out possession and found Gaby Lovobalavu with a neat offload before the centre laid on the scoring pass. Rob Miller converted to level the scores at 7-7.

Bath escaped further punishment when Nathan Hughes broke through from a line-out only for the home side to snaffle possession at the ruck just metres from the try-line.

There was an even closer shave after 27 minutes when Wasps, very much on the front foot at this stage, spilled the ball over the try-line from a sharp attack down the right.

They made no mistake two minutes later though, when a set-piece move off a line-out saw Hughes stroll to the posts off a short pass by Lovobalavu. Miller converted again.

A scintillating break by Watson, now fully fit after his Achilles problems, underlined his threat from full-back but there was no Bath player in support.

Burns added a penalty before Wasps looked to have responded when Josh Bassett touched down in the left corner, only for the score to be ruled out for a forward pass.

Bath, having lost Dave Attwood to injury, conceded a penalty at their own put-in to the scrum and Miller’s kick ensured that Wasps led 10-17 at the break.

A high tackle on Watson offered Burns a kickable chance from 30 metres but the fly-half’s effort was wide.

The scrum was now a distinct area of weakness in Bath’s game, leaving them increasingly reliant on a moment of magic from their backs.

Hughes continued to pose a muscular threat for Wasps but conceded a penalty at the breakdown which presented Bath with a lineout inside the visitors’ 22. Bath again forced their way over but replacement prop Jacques Van Rooyen could not get the ball down.

This time the penalty went Bath’s way and they were confident enough to take another scrum from which Mercer finished off a succession of forward drives, with Alex Davies adding the conversion to level the scores with six minutes left.

Cokanasiga then touched down for an unconverted try in the left corner before Mercer grabbed the fourth try following a catch-and-drive from a line-out and Kahn Fotuali’i added the extras.

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Bath leave it late to beat Wasps