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Match Reaction: Bath Rugby 31 Saracens 21

Match Reaction: Bath Rugby 31 Saracens 21

On an emotional day at the Rec, Bath Rugby came from behind to see off Saracens 31-21 thanks to a late double for Semesa Rokoduguni, giving departing coach Tabai Matson the perfect home send-off.

Matson will return to his native New Zealand for family reasons, with this game expected to be his last at the Rec in charge of Bath.

And despite a ferocious comeback from Saracens, Bath were able to make it two Aviva Premiership Rugby wins from two thanks to their winger’s late contribution.

Man of the match – Semesa Rokoduguni

There were a number of contenders on both sides, not least the impressive Rhys Priestland, but it was Rokoduguni who turned the game at the death. With Bath trailing 21-17, and the players out on their feet after an epic encounter, Rokoduguni took the ball at first receiver from a scrum and weaved his way through a string of tackles to score. He quickly followed that up with a second intercept score in as many weeks to wrap up the victory and deny the visitors even a losing bonus point.

Try of the match

Either of Rokoduguni’s efforts could have earned this nod, and Ben Spencer’s effort which looked to be a winner was also a cracker. But Francois Louw’s effort in the first half gets the honours as he looked like a winger charging down the sidelines, seeing off a couple of tackles after Jonathan Joseph and Matt Banahan had combined to put him clear following a cute cross kick from Rhys Priestland.

Moment of the match

Saracens thought they had completed an unlikely comeback when Spencer crossed to make it 21-17 but Rokoduguni had other ideas. Starved of possession for much of the second half, the home side finally found their way into Saracens territory with four minutes remaining. And after a stable scrum, Kahn Fotuali’i turned straight to his Fijian teammate, with the winger doing the rest for a stunning score.

What they said:

 Semesa Rokoduguni: “First and foremost I thank the Lord as my source of strength. I just wanted to get over the gainline, then I was lucky to get away.

“We do a lot of sidestep practice throughout the week, off both feet.

“Me, Anthony (Watson) and all the back three players practise this before a game because we know we’ll get those chances in game time.

“I wanted to get in between Owen Farrell and Brits to suck them in, their nine was over-chasing and there was an opportunity to get a half-break. There was no tackle, so I carried on.”

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall: “We were extremely poor first half. Very disjointed and some bad decisions with the greasy ball.

“After the break we were transformed. We needed to be smarter in the way we play.

“I’m pleased we made a real effort to win the game in that last attack.”

Social media reaction

Thank god for the Fijian Warlord. 🙏🏽

A post shared by Anthony Watson (@anthonywatson_) on

 

 

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