Wasps claim emphatic win in Bath European Cup return
Jimmy Gopperth’s 23-point haul set Wasps on their way to an emphatic 36-10 European Cup win at Bath.
The Kiwi stand-off claimed his first try of the season, in addition to kicking three conversions and four penalties. Wasps’ other tries came from replacement centre Alapati Leiua and Elliot Daly, who also dropped a goal. This came after winger Semesa Rokoduguni had put the hosts ahead, but once Wasps had built a 16 point interval lead, they never looked like losing a match which their forwards controlled.
The black and gold’s now face a crucial away game against champions Toulon, before Leinster late January visit to the Ricoh concludes the pool five action. Daly made an immediate impression for Wasps when his kick off return made 40 metres. This set the tone for a first half during which Wasps looked the more threatening side for long periods. However, it was Bath who were first on the board when England winger Rokoduguni raced into the corner from 20 metres. French referee Romain Poite awarded the try after the TMO had reviewed the legality of Kyle Easmond’s final pass.
Gopperth soon opened Wasps’ account with a simple penalty after Bath infringed on the ground, before the visitors silenced a noisy Rec with an excellent counter-attack try. Joe Simpson scooped up David Denton’s turnover on halfway, and released Daly who scorched to the posts for his third try of the season. Gopperth converted, then extended the visitors advantage to six points when Bath went off their feet on their own 22.
Wasps’ front row were in dominant form, and they soon forced another penalty, which their fly half struck sweetly between the posts from 40 metres. The visitors only conceded a single penalty in the first half, while Bath conceded field position more than once through falling foul of M. Poite’s whistle.
Wasps extended the scoring sequence to 23 unanswered points when they struck again shortly before half time. Bath prevented a rampaging Nathan Hughes from touching down, but from the resulting five metre scrum James Haskell released Gopperth, who crashed into the blindside corner before adding a superb touchline conversion.
Wasps opted not to take a further three points early in the second period, but were unable to convert a sequence of close-range scrums into a try. Bath changed their entire front row on 46 minutes, and this move gave them a more solid foundation for the remainder of the match. A neat set move from a lineout saw Ford’s inside pass release Rokoduguni, who made 40 metres before losing the ball forward. Bath’s front row won a penalty which Ford accepted midway through the second half, but Gopperth soon restored Wasps’ 16 point advantage with a very well-struck 40 metre effort.
Wasps made a raft of changes as the match went into the final 15 minutes, and one of the new arrivals Sam Jones won a turnover with a massive tackle. Daly extended the visitors’ lead with a snap drop goal after good interplay between Charles Piutau and replacement Alapati Leiua, after which Rokoduguni received a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on during the build-up. Samoan centre Leiua then added the icing to Wasps’ cake with a third try. He popped up on Gopperth’s shoulder when the Kiwi made a darting break from a lineout, to skate gleefully under the posts.
Wasps had six minutes remaining to clinch a bonus point, but failed to convert a flowing late move into points when Frank Halai ran out of space in the right corner.
Wasps: Rob Miller; Frank Halai, Elliot Daly, Ben Jacobs, Charles Piutau; Jimmy Gopperth, Joe Simpson; Matt Mullan, Ashley Johnson, Lorenzo Cittadini; Joe Launchbury, Bradley Davies; James Haskell, George Smith, Nathan Hughes.
Replacements: Edd Shervington, Simon McIntyre, Phil Swainston, James Gaskell, Sam Jones, Dan Robson, Ruaridh Jackson, Alapati Leiua.
Bath: Anthony Watson; Semesa Rokoduguni, Jonathan Joseph, Kyle Eastmond, Matt Banahan; George Ford, Niko Matawalu; Nick Auterac, Ross Batty, David Wilson; Matt Garvey, Dave Attwood; Leroy Houston, Francois Louw, David Denton.
Replacements: Rob Webber, Max Lahiff, Henry Thomas, Charlie Ewels, Guy Mercer, Chris Cook, Rhys Priestland, Tom Homer.
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