European Champions Cup: Taulupe Faletau shines as Bath beat Wasps 18-16

Bath's Taulupe Faletau
Faletau fractured his arm in a Premiership game against Exeter in October
European Champions Cup - Pool One
Bath (12) 18
Tries: Green, Mercer Con: Priestland Pens: Priestland 2
Wasps (10) 16
Try: Hughes Con: Sopoaga Pens: Sopoaga 2, Miller

Wales forward Taulupe Faletau's Champions Cup return shows he is ready for the Six Nations, says Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder.

The 28-year-old set up a try for Max Green before a late Rhys Priestland penalty sealed victory against Wasps.

Blackadder praised fit-again Faletau for his performance after more than 13 weeks out with a fractured forearm.

"He looked really sharp," he said. "He just grows another arm and a leg when he gets out there on the field."

The New Zealander added: "Before the game he was really, really nervous. But it's good to see those nerves from an experienced guy like him."

Wasps celebrate winning a penalty
Nathan Hughes returned for Wasps after a month out

Fit-again England forward Nathan Hughes scored Wasps' try but Dai Young's side will finish bottom of Pool One.

"With the ball, we didn't look that threatening," Young said. "We didn't look like creating much or causing them problems.

"We had ball, we had possession, we had territory. But we didn't possess the cutting edge to turn that pressure into points."

Bath remain third in the pool with one round left to play, but neither side can qualify for the quarter-finals.

Pool One
PlayedWonPoints
1. Leinster5420
2. Toulouse5417
3. Bath519
4. Wasps504

Battle of the back rows

British and Irish Lion Faletau shone immediately for Bath as he engineered the side's first try, bursting through defenders in the midfield to make over 30m and send Green over for his first score for the club.

Bath flanker Sam Underhill's absence from the Six Nations is a blow for England, but Hughes and Zach Mercer showed Eddie Jones he has depth in his back-row options.

Hughes, returning after a month out with a hip problem, impressed when deft work off the back of a ruck saw him sneak the ball over for the visitors' try.

Mercer, in competition with the number eight for an England spot, did not let his opposite number hog the limelight though, cutting through a gap in the Wasps defence to score.

Fly-halves Lima Sopoaga and Priestland were accurate from the tee, both kicking eight points in a game where the lead changed hands seven times.

But Wales' Priestland, who will leave Bath at the end of the season, ensured Wasps' poor away form continues - Young's side have not won an away game since September.

Bath travel to Toulouse for the final round of the Champions Cup, while Wasps welcome Leinster to the Ricoh.

Line-ups

Bath: Atkins; Homer, Clark, Wright, Brew; Priestland, Green; van Rooyen, Walker, Lahiff, Stooke, Charteris (c), Faletau, Bayliss, Mercer

Replacements: Attwood for Stooke (46), Cook for Green (54), Stooke for Attwood (56), Noguera for van Rooyen (65), Louw for Bayliss (65), Van Vuuren for Walker (69), Attwood for Stooke (69), Nixon for Lahiff (69).

Not used: Davies.

Wasps: Miller; Neal, Campagnaro, De Jongh, Bassett; Sopoaga, Robson; Zhvania, Cruse, Stuart, Launchbury (c), Rowlands, Shields, Young, Hughes

Replacements: B. Harris for Zhvania (54), Cooper-Woolley for Stuart (54), A. Harris for Cruse (60), Matthews for Rowlands (63), Lovobalavu for Campagnaro (67), Searle for Sopoaga (70), Carr for Young (72).

Not used: Hampson

Sin-bin: Sopoaga (60)

Ref: Ben Whitehouse (Wal)

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