Saracens smash Bath
PREMIERSHIP SUNDAY WRAP: Chris Ashton scored twice to become the record scorer at Allianz Park as Saracens enjoyed a fruitful afternoon to keep the pressure on Premiership leaders Wasps.
The wing added a second-half brace to make the most of a tiring Bath side, while Schalk Brits, Brad Barritt and Billy Vunipola also added scores in the final 40 minutes for a 53-10 win
Wasps extended their advantage at the top of the Premiership table with a hard-fought victory over Worcester Warriors in an enthralling encounter at the Ricoh Arena.
Christian Wade was on sparkling form for Wasps and crossed twice as the hosts ran in six tries in a 40-33 win, but the leaders did not have it all their own way against a spirited Warriors outfit.
Josh Adams ran in two tries for Warriors as the visitors led on two occasions, but Bryce Heem's dismissal early in the second period proved to be costly for Gary Gold's men.
Wasps stay top, and Worcester's two bonus points means they are now nine clear of Bristol at the bottom of the table with four matches to go.
Saracens 53-10 Bath
Jamie George, Alex Goode and Sean Maitland had crossed before the break, as Saracens boasted a 15-10 lead come the half-time whistle.
That was after Anthony Watson had scored for Bath, who missed out on the chance to regain a place in the top four after Leicester Tigers' victory over Northampton Saints yesterday.
George ensured Saracens started like an express train on home turf, gathering at the back of a line-out to execute a driving maul to dot down with less than four minutes on the clock.
Bath had an opportunity to fight back through a George Ford penalty but, with the wind against him, found his effort from the tee drifting wide to end a frantic first ten minutes.
But from there, Saracens turned on the style. A brilliantly worked team try saw Richard Wigglesworth and Chris Ashton at the heart of the move, the latter finding Alex Goode to dive over in the corner for his 20th Premiership score.
A Ford penalty then narrowed the gap to nine points, but Bath were not done there with an excellent team try of their own, rounded off by Anthony Watson.
He benefitted from a sweeping move from left to right, weaving in and out of the home defence to bundle down after an excellent running line as Ford added the extras.
That proved to be the start of a resurgence for the visitors heading into the break, almost taking the lead thanks to Matt Banahan's excellent kick into space.
That forced Sarries to dot down behind their own line, winning a penalty from the scrum only for the wind to edge out Ford, keeping the hosts narrowly ahead.
But the first half action wasn't done there though, as Sean Maitland ensured Mark McCall's side’s lead was to sit at seven points come the break.
He found himself in a pocket of space, orchestrating a delicious kick over the Bath backline to dot down with just millimetres to spare as Saracens went to the break 17-10 ahead.
That lead was to be extended with Farrell's first penalty of the afternoon moments into the second half, an important kick to take them more than a score ahead of Bath.
And despite the visitors’ endeavour, it was Saracens next on the board right on the hour mark, with a rolling maul seeing their forwards get a drive on, Schalk Brits the man to eventually slam the ball onto the turf.
His side's excellent afternoon was to continue just moments later as Barritt became the fifth different Saracens scorer in the match, with Wigglesworth once again the man to break to set his skipper away for his 13th Premiership score.
Despite their lead, the hosts kept pushing forward as Ashton got himself on the scoresheet with a trademark swan dive – taking him to a record 16th try at Allianz Park.
The ball was worked out to the right wing where Ashton, celebrating his 30th birthday next week, found himself in space, adding a sixth try of the afternoon in his own typical style.
Billy Vunipola ensured he wasn't to miss out on the action, barging his way over from just ten metres as his return from international duty was to finish as a fruitful one, before Ashton added a second of his own thanks to an interception.
That rounded off a powerful afternoon for the hosts, within one point of second-placed Exeter Chiefs in the Premiership table.
Tries: George, Goode, Maitland, Brits, Barritt, Ashton 2, B Vunipola
Cons: Farrell 5
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (captain), 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jackson Wray, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Kelly Brown, 20 Joel Conlon, 21 Henry Taylor, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Duncan Taylor.
Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford (co-captain), 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Francois Louw (co-captain), 6 Tom Ellis, 5 Luke Charteris, 4 Charlie Ewels, 3 Max Lahiff, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Chris Brooker, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Kane Palma-Newport, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Paul Grant, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Tom Homer.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Tom Foley, Paul Dix
TMO: Graham Hughes
Wasps 40-33 Worcester Warriors
In a breathless first-half, Bryce Heem bundled over for the visitors after five minutes to give them the perfect start.
However, the lead lasted just six minutes as Will Rowlands dotted down after being set up by Jimmy Gopperth, who missed the conversion.
And the match was turned on its head moments later as the devastating Christian Wade danced through several tackles and sped over the line. This time, Gopperth hit the target as the home side opened up a 12-5 lead.
But Warriors hit back with two converted Josh Adams tries to seize the lead once more. Adams crashed over on 24 minutes after holding off the tackle, Ryan Mills adding the extras.
And Adams looked to have given Worcester a decisive half-time lead when he crossed two minutes before the interval, Mills once again doing the honours.
However, Wade had other ideas and tore down the touchline for his second of the afternoon, Gopperth converting.
The try moves Wade level with Kenny Logan's all-time Wasps try record with 79.
The second-half saw Warriors reduced to 14 men early on after Heem was given his marching orders for taking out Willie le Roux as the South African jumped for a high ball.
And Wasps made their numerical advantage account as Alapati Leiua dived over to score for the bonus-point try, Gopperth doing the honours for the extras.
Warriors defended bravely, but their stout resistance did not hold out as Josh Bassett dotted down after some excellent Wasps handling.
Gopperth kicked the extras from in front of the posts after the TMO confirmed the grounding was good.
Brendan Macken added Wasps' sixth score after being fed by Kurtley Beale, before Warriors secured a bonus point of their own four minutes from time when prop Biyi Alo crashed over, Mills adding the extras.
And there was still time for Jackson Willison to dot down for Worcester's fifth score as they took advantage of former Warrior Matt Mullan being yellow-carded for Wasps.
Mills kept his cool to kick the two points and secure a losing bonus point for the visitors, but the hosts held on for victory.
Tries: Rowlands, Wade 2, Leiua, Bassett, Macken
Cons: Gopperth 4, Cipriani
For Worcester Warriors:
Tries: Heem, Adams 2, Alo, Willison
Cons: Mills 4
Red Card: Bryce Heem (Warriors, 45 - dangerous play, taking player out in the air)
Yellow card: Matt Mullan (Wasps, 74)
Wasps: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Willie Le Roux, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Alex Rieder, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Haskell, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Ashley Johnson (captain), 1 Simon McIntyre.
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Brendan Macken, 23 Josh Bassett.
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Marco Mama, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan (captain), 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Joe Taufete’e, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin.
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Phil Dowson, 20 Dewald Potgieter, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Perry Humphreys, 23 Dean Hammond.
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Ian Tempest, Simon McConnell
TMO: David Grashoff