Wasps 23-25 Bath: George Ford’s last-gasp conversion stuns Wasps at the Ricoh Arena as England coach Eddie Jones watches from stands
Bath edged past Wasps 25-23 at the Ricoh Arena in one of the most closely-contested games of the season
Tries from Jonathan Joseph and Matt Banahan plus five points from George Ford gave the visitors a narrow 15-12 lead at the break
Rob Miller’s second half score plus penalties from Ruaridh Jackson (4) and Elliot Daly give the hosts a 20-18 lead heading into the final few minutes
Wasps found themselves down to 13 men in the closing stages after George Smith and Lorenzo Cittadini were sent to the sin-bin
Anthony Watson then drew Bath level with a try before George Ford kept his composure to win the game with a stunning last-gasp touchline conversion
Eddie Jones watched George Ford keep his composure to win the game for Bath with a last-gasp touchline conversion as they overcame Wasps at a dumbfounded Ricoh Arena.
Ford’s conversion after the final hooter was the difference between the two sides as Bath edged past Wasps 25-23 at the Ricoh Arena in one of the most closely-contested games of the season.
Jonathan Joseph and Matt Banahan scored first-half tries for Bath, with the boot of Ford bringing up five points.
Three Ruaridh Jackson penalties and one from Elliot Daly kept Wasps in the game at half-time, before Ford notched his second penalty on 48 minutes.
But Rob Miller’s unconverted try on the hour put the home side in the driving seat before a Jimmy Gopperth penalty looked to have won the game for Dai Young’s men.
However, Anthony Watson had other ideas and, after deliberation from the TMO, his try was awarded to make it 23-all on the hooter, before Ford kept his cool to win the game for Bath in the most dramatic of circumstances.
The new England coach will have taken note of the character, determination and physicality of England stars Ford, Joseph and Watson, but above all, he will have taken note of the ambition and never say die attitude that was on display from the visitors especially.
Jackson fired over an early penalty as Wasps looked to build on their two heroic performances in Europe last month, but Ford leveled the scores with a three-pointer of his own on 11 minutes.
But it was Bath who got the first try of the game, going 10-3 up after Joseph raced over and Ford added the extras, ahead of a three-pointer from Wasps’ Daly
And they were in again within minutes, Nikola Matawalu and Banahan linking up to send the latter in, but Ford went wide with his conversion attempt.
With conditions worsening, the frequency of errors increased, but Bath had a nine-point lead to protect.
The ever-destructive Nathan Hughes earned a penalty that Jackson converted, before the fly-half added another to make it a three-point ball game at half time.
As the ‘tit for tat’ scoring continued, Ford replied with his second penalty of the day shortly after the restart following a scrum, ahead of Jackson’s fourth and last penalty of the day two minutes later.
That left the game firmly in the balance with half an hour to play.
And it was Wasps who hit the front for the first time in almost an hour, a barnstorming run from wing man Sailosi Tagicakibau, who smashed through two defenders, laying the platform for Miller to thunder over the line, notching the hosts’ first try of the game to the delight of the raucous home crowd.
That left Wasps with a two-point lead to cling on to with 20 minutes to go.
A flurry of replacements from both sides preceded a Gopperth penalty on 74 minutes, putting the hosts five points up in the dying embers of the game.
But Bath launched a desperate revival attempt and flew downfield, heaping mountains of pressure on the home line.
With time up and James Haskell and co looking to haul themselves towards the final whistle, Lorenzo Cittadini, and George Smith were both sin-binned with 80 minutes on the clock.
That proved to be a crucial blow for the home side as Watson exploited his side’s two-man advantage, forcing his way over to leave the home contingent facing late heartbreak.
But there was still plenty of work to be done as the TMO eventually arrived at a decision, calling a try, before Ford showed immense nerve to win the game from the touchline with time up.
Man of the Match
Bath: George Ford
Tough conditions meant Ford wasn’t at his free-flowing best, but his composure at the death under the most immense of pressure had to be applauded.
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Ben Jacobs, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 George Smith, 6 James Haskell (c), 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Edd Shervington, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Alapati Leiua.
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 David Denton, 7 Francois Louw (c), 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Tom Ellis, 3 David Wilson, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Leroy Houston, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Tom Homer.
Date: Sunday, December 13
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 17:15 GMT
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant Referees: Maxime Chalon (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)