Burgess up and running

p18289Sport-7-1

Published: Saturday 10th January 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Sam Burgess scored his first Aviva Premiership try for Bath as the title contenders brushed off Recreation Ground visitors Wasps in bonus point fashion.

Former rugby league star Burgess struck 45 minutes into the contest, which highlighted his most effective performance since he entered the union code as a second-half substitute against Harlequins six weeks ago.

The high-profile union convert proved a prominent figure in attack and defence as Bath triumphed 39-26 on the back of further tries from flanker Francois Louw, wings Semesa Rokoduguni and Matt Banahan, plus substitute Ollie Devoto, while fly-half George Ford kicked 14 points.

Play-off challengers Wasps collected a losing bonus point, which had looked unlikely when they trailed 39-12. Late scores by Ben Jacobs and Alex Lozowski added to earlier touchdowns from Alapati Leiua and number eight Nathan Hughes, while Lozowski booted two conversions and Andy Goode one.

Bath’s latest league win meant they moved just one point behind leaders Northampton following Saints’ 20-7 loss against Sale Sharks on Saturday.

And it gave them just the lift they required after last Sunday’s defeat at Leicester before resuming European Champions Cup business with a crunch pool clash in Toulouse next weekend.

Bath showed a number of changes from the side beaten by Leicester at Welford Road six days ago, including starts for centre Jonathan Joseph, prop Nick Auterac and number eight Leroy Houston.

Wasps were forced into a late switch when wing Sailosi Tagicakibau was sidelined by a strained hamstring, so Josh Bassett was promoted to the starting line-up.

Burgess was prominent during the initial flurries, twice making ground in midfield as the home side looked to start strongly against opponents who had moved impressively into play-off contention.

Burgess also shone through a couple of crunching early tackles, announcing his presence in no uncertain terms just three weeks before a possible run-out for England Saxons against Irish Wolfhounds in Cork.

And Bath’s momentum was rewarded after 11 minutes when they breached Wasps’ defence following sustained pressure, with Louw bouncing off a would-be tackler and touching down bethween the posts for a try that Ford converted.

Wasps’ early problems were not helped by flanker Sam Jones going off injured – he was replaced by Ashley Johnson – and Bath continued to dominate the territorial battle, helped chiefly by centre Jonathan Joseph’s creativity.

But Wasps pounced from their first notable attack after Jacobs’ strong midfield run left the Bath defence in disarray, and he linked impressively with Hughes, who delivered a scoring pass to Leiua.

It was a wake-up call for the home side, yet they responded through a Ford penalty 12 minutes before half-time, and then delivered a stunning try from deep inside their own half.

Turnover possession found its way to full-back Anthony Watson, whose angled run stretched Wasps, and then Ford sent Rokoduguni sprinting away on a 50-metre break.

Rokoduguni just made it to the line, appearing to suffer a hamstring injury as he neared Wasps’ line. Ford converted, but the England wing was then forced off and Olly Woodburn took over from him as the interval approached.

Wasps could not establish any momentum following Leiua’s try and a second Ford penalty opened up a 15-point advantage at the break, leaving Bath firmly in charge of the contest.

Bath were in no mood to take their foot off the accelerator immediately after half-time, and more sustained pressure resulted in the impressive Ford sending Burgess over from close range.

Hughes replied with a try for Wasps shortly afterwards, yet Bath were not to be diverted from their quest for a five-point maximum, which arrived midway through the second period through a trademark power-packed Banahan score.

Wasps just could not cope with wave after wave of Bath attacks, and Devoto added another touchdown – Ford converted from the touchline – but the visitors finished strongly through tries Jacobs and Lozowski that said a great deal about their character.

Published: Saturday 10th January 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search