Priestland penalty seals late winner
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Bath edged out their English rivals Wasps in a back-and-forth encounter at The Recreation Ground, triumphing 18-16 in Pool One, courtesy of a late Rhys Priestland penalty.
Lima Sopoaga scored the games’ first points after slotting his penalty kick to give Wasps an early lead, but it was Taulupe Faletau, returning from a three-month spell on the sidelines, who set up the first try of the afternoon with a scintillating run.
The Welsh international broke through the Wasps defence inside his own half and gave Max Green an easy run into the try line to give the home side the lead. Priestland was wide with his conversion attempt.
Wasps responded immediately through England No.8, Nathan Hughes, who used his long arms to great use to put the ball down on the line and give Wasps the lead back. Lima Sopoaga added the extra two points.
But it was Bath’s turn to entertain, with centre Max Wright perfectly timing a delayed pop pass to Zach Mercer, who had acres of space to score Bath’s second try of the afternoon. Priestland ensured maximum points with the conversion.
Sopoaga put Wasps back ahead after the break with a simple penalty in front of the sticks, but his opposite number Rhys Priestland gave Bath back the lead with three-pointer himself.
With regular place-kicker Sopoaga being sent to the sin-bin for foul play, Rob Miller stepped up to snatch the lead back for Wasps to continue the to-and-fro action.
However, it was Bath that prevailed in the end after Rhys Priestland’s 79th-minute penalty to give the West Country club their first win of the Champions Cup campaign.
Tries: Green, Mercer
Pens: Priestland 2
Pens: Sopoaga 2, Miller
Bath: 15 Darren Atkins, 14 Tom Homer, 13 Max Clark, 12 Max Wright, 11 Aled Brew, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Max Green, 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Josh Bayliss, 6 Taulupe Faletau, 5 Luke Charteris (captain), 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Jack Walker, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Michael van Vuuren, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Sam Nixon, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Alex Davies, 23 Jackson Willison.
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Ross Neal, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Will Rowlands, 4 Joe Launchbury (captain), 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Zurabi Zhvania.
Replacements: 16 Antonio Harris, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Craig Hampson, 22 Billy Searle, 23 Gaby Lovobalavu.
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Craig Evans (Wales), Wayne Davies (Wales)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)