Sarries end Bath's Rec run
Fri, 28 Feb 2014 22:19
David Strettle marked his 100th Saracens appearance in style as his side became the first to find a way past Bath at The Rec this season by 23-10.
Bath mistakes allowed Strettle to dot down for his ninth Premiership try of the season shortly after Chris Wyles finished off a flowing move down the line.
And Alex Goode - a late call-up at flyhalf - kept the scoreboard ticking over with 13 points from the tee, as the hosts' penalty try proved too little too late.
Something had to give between the two Premiership play-off chasers - Bath were unbeaten at home all season while Sarries had won their last four at The Rec.
However, Mark McCall's best-laid plans took a blow just before kick-off as Charlie Hodgson pulled out of the starting-line up, forcing Goode to stand in at flyhalf in his place.
Both teams came flying out at breakneck speed and after play was pulled back for a Bath penalty, George Ford drilled the first opportunity of the match wide.
Yet Sarries' momentum started to snowball, Schalk Brits showing remarkable awareness to release Joel Tomkins - who could not quite finish in the corner.
Ford's kicks from hand have been deadeye all season and he eased the pressure on the home side by doing just that.
And a bruising break from Alafoti Fa'osiliva, supported by an equally pulverizing run from Leroy Houston, nearly yielded a try but Bath could not pound down the door - instead taking the three points through Ford.
Peter Stringer then thought he'd scored after a quick-thinking offload by Matt Banahan from touch but the touch judge ruled the wing's pass was a forward one.
The scores were levelled via the boot of Goode - and it wasn't long until Sarries assumed the front-foot.
A break from Strettle eventually set Joel Tomkins free, who evaded the grasp of Ford and put in Wyles for the score - which was swiftly converted by Goode.
And a series of mishaps made matters worse for the home side, first Nick Abendanon loose with possession before Banahan fumbled a kick to present Brad Barritt with a glorious chance.
The England international did not turn down the offer, laying on a beautifully-weighted grubber for the onrushing Strettle to crown his 100th appearance with one of the simplest converted tries he could have hoped for.
It was the first time Bath had gone into the break behind at home this season and at 17-3, though the tempo slowed down in the early stages of the second half, so had Sarries' scoring.
But Mike Ford's troops were struggling to string together a cohesive move, leaving a confident Goode to knock a drop-goal between the posts 15 minutes in.
Gavin Henson's introduction brought some fresh life into the game and after he won a penalty, Jacques Burger's high tackle on Anthony Watson earned the flank a yellow card.
Only last-gasp defence from George Kruis prevented a try from the ensuing rolling maul as Sarries held firm. The clock was ticking away but Bath did not give up hope and were rewarded for their troubles with a penalty try.
It was to prove in vain however as Goode untwisted the home side's screw with a smartly-taken penalty to wrap up an impressive victory.
Try: Penalty try
Tries: Wyles, Strettle
Cons: Goode 2
Pens: Goode 2
Yellow cards: Jaques Burger (Saracens, 65), Chris Wyles (Saracens, 78)
Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Francois Louw (captain), 6 Alafoti Fa'osiliva, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Dominic Day, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Eusebio Guinazu, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Ryan Caldwell, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Micky Young, 22 Gavin Henson, 23 Semesa Rokoduguni.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Neil de Kock, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 George Kruis, 4 Steve Borthwick, 3 James Johnston, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Eoin Sheriff, 20 Kelly Brown, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Marcelo Bosch.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Paul Dix
TMO: David Grashoff
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