Wasps put off-field issues aside to earn first win of season against Bath

Wasps put off-field issues aside to earn first win of the season against Bath - GETTY IMAGES
Wasps put off-field issues aside to earn first win of the season against Bath - GETTY IMAGES

What crisis? For a brief moment Wasps could forget their off-field troubles, a bonus-point win away from home proving to be a welcome reprieve even if they came close to blowing another sizable lead before eventually holding off Bath.

This first Premiership win of the season will not appease concerns about what is next. With the unpaid £35m debt to bondholders hanging over the club's head, Wasps now have 10 working days after filing a notice to appoint an administrator on Wednesday to either find investment or enter administration, although can apply to extend that for another 10 working days.

While the size of the financial deficit and the fact that Wasps were threatened with an HRMC winding-up petition prior to filing their notice is obviously of enormous concern, there is at least a sense that the club are handling and managing their current financial plight significantly better than similarly struggling Worcester.

Regarding Thursday's meeting with chief executive Stephen Vaughan and owner Derek Richardson on Thursday, Wasps head coach Lee Blackett said: "They gave assurances, but no one can guarantee anything. They are confident. There’s a lot of interest. It is a great club. Look at the facilities we’ve got, the stadium. There’s been a lot of interest, new interest coming forward. I get very little info as I don’t ask, but there are a lot of people who are very positive.

"After the last couple of days I’m really proud of the efforts and delighted with the result, getting five points. Everyone is taking it in different ways. The majority of players are like me, and have belief we’ll come out of it. They’ll be others who are serial worriers about things."

It has been a tough time for Lee Blackett and Wasps - GETTY IMAGES
It has been a tough time for Lee Blackett and Wasps - GETTY IMAGES

To make matters worse for Wasps, back-row Alfie Barbeary faces 10 to 16 weeks out with a hamstring injury.

Regarding Bath's comeback, winning the second half 24-8, Johann van Graan said: "I think the positive for me is that everybody at the game would have seen that we've got fight. As a coach, that's something we have potentially been lacking in the past," before Van Graan admitted that Bath's squad is already "very, very thin" with injuries in the forwards.

There is no question Bath are rebuilding and what Van Graan wants – to control the set-piece and territory while keeping tight defensively – on the basis of Wasps' opening try still needs work.

Having won a scrum penalty and kicked deep into touch in Wasps' half, Bath promptly had their line-out stolen by Nizaam Carr, sparking a Wasps counter-attack which after a good carry from Sam Spink (one of many) was followed by Josh Bassett grubbering, doing well to control the ball with his second touch before diving on it to score.

After Jack Willis burrowed over a few minutes later, Bath found themselves in deep trouble and it was only about to get worse as Wasps came up with a beautiful score. Shredding Bath open down the left-hand side again, Spink, Jacob Umaga and finally the excellent Odendaal with a deft offload behind his back all combined to send Will Porter racing away to the line. The club in disarray off the pitch held a comfortable 25-0 lead.

Will Muir's try after a good break from Orlando Bailey gave Bath something to briefly smile about, but this was one-way traffic, with Wasps leading 28-7 at half-time and adding to their tally after the break when a well-constructed attack was finished by Bassett, collecting a cracking pass from Charlie Atkinson to stroll over his second.

Eddie Jones, watching in the stands, will have no doubt noted Atkinson's contribution, along with that of Jack Willis who was typically excellent (his yellow card aside).

Wasps blew a healthy lead at Kingsholm against Gloucester on the opening weekend but surely it couldn't happen again... could it? Bath's maul coming to life upset the apple cart, Tom Dunn and his magnificent mullet going over twice either side of Jonathan Joseph stepping round Odendaal to score, swinging the score from 7-36 to 28-36 in the space of 10 minutes. But Bath could not snatch the win, a late Wasps penalty even denying the hosts a losing bonus point.

Wasps, despite a flat second half, clung on. That is something they will now have to do away from the field too over the next few days while their future remains uncomfortably up in the air.