Bath advance after close-fought encounter

Young and progressive visitors edge out Wasps to secure place in Amlin cup final

Bath head coach Mike Ford: impressed by his young side’s determined performance. Photograph:  Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Bath head coach Mike Ford: impressed by his young side’s determined performance. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images


Bath coach Mike Ford felt yesterday’s tightly-contested 24-18 win at Wasps, which secured a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup final, will give his young players belief.

Bath will now face Northampton, who beat Harlequins last Friday, in the final at Cardiff Arms Park on May 23rd.

The visitors trailed 13-10 at the interval and took some time to subdue a committed Wasps team, but two tries from Rob Webber, one from Anthony Perenise and nine points from the boot of George Ford secured victory.

Bath had to survive a nerve-jangling last five minutes after Kyle Eastmond was sin-binned, but Ford praised their efforts.

Progressive Bath
“We needed that to give us the belief that we are good side,” said Ford

. “We’ve only scratched the surface with this team as they are very young and still developing. We found a way to win. Fair play to Wasps – they put us under miles of pressure and it was tense . . . there was some excellent decision-making from our captain, Stuart Hooper.”

Bath now have to regroup in time for their massive game against Northampton at home on Friday as they seek to clinch a place in the Aviva Premiership play-offs.

“It will be a sell-out on Friday and the Rec will be rocking, but we need to win the big games against the big sides,” he said.

“We’ve lost to Saracens twice this season, and to Northampton, so we have to start beating the major teams to continue our progression.”

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young was satisfied with his side’s overall performance, but bemoaned the concession of soft tries.

“We came up a little bit short, but that’s an image of most of our season,” he said. “We work our socks off but we give points away very cheaply, which you can’t do against a quality team like Bath.”

Wasps scored two tries through Will Helu and Ashley Johnson, with Andy Goode kicking two penalties and a conversion, but could have had another when Kearnan Myall’s effort was ruled out by the TMO because of an earlier forward pass.

“It looked a bit flat to me but they had one ruled out for an earlier knock-on so I have no complaints,” said Young. “If the technology is there, it should be used.”

Pivotal moment
That decision proved to be the turning point as back came Bath to regain the lead. Wasps carelessly lost a line-out in their own 22 with Webber on hand to crash over for the try, which Ford converted.

Wasps now face Newcastle at home and Northampton away as they look to gain a place in next season’s European Champions Cup.

“We won’t have Christian Wade or Jake Cooper-Woolley back for those games, but the next two weeks are important games for the club as we have a shot at Europe, which we didn’t think we’d have a few weeks ago,” added Young.

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