TOP BAR - Fixtures

Aviva Premiership Rugby Final Reaction: Bath Rugby 16 Saracens 28

Mark McCall was full of praise for Owen Farrell after the Saracens No.10 won his personal battle with George Ford to lead his side back to the Aviva Premiership Rugby summit.

Ahead of the Twickenham showdown, talk centred around the fly-half battle between England teammates Farrell and Ford with the 2015 World Cup edging ever closer and just one No.10 jersey up for grabs.

And come the final whistle it was Farrell beaming from ear to ear as he scored 18 points – including an early try that set Saracens on their way – as McCall’s men put last year’s final disappointment behind them by beating Bath Rugby 28-16.

It was the first time Saracens got their hands on English rugby’s top prize since 2011, and McCall admitted he was delighted to be able to call on Farrell’s services after the fly-half has battled injury this campaign, only making his second Aviva Premiership Rugby start of 2015 in the final round of regular season.

“Last year hurt us obviously, going so close and to lose the final in extra-time, although we didn’t deserve anything last season,” McCall said.

“But that gave us motivation and when we came back into pre-season we wanted to win it all again and I thought our first half performance was special and that helped us get there.

“This season was obviously slightly different as the last couple of seasons we won the league by big margins and ultimately didn’t win any silverware.

“This time around we had to fight hard to just get into the semi-finals but thankfully we had enough in our legs to have a great performance away at Northampton and then do what we did here.

“Owen is a big game player and he has proved that down the years. England are blessed to have two brilliant young tens who will be around for a long time. George Ford is a brilliant rugby player but Owen Farrell showed again what he is all about and I am delighted he came back from injury for us at the stage of the season that he did.”

Man-of-the-match Farrell got Saracens off the mark as he converted his own try after just six minutes, with England teammate Jamie George following him over the whitewash shortly after.

And before half-time Saracens had three tries to celebrate as Chris Wyles touched down, the Bath fans only able to cheer a single solitary George Ford penalty in the first half.

After the break Bath were much improved and a Jonathan Joseph try and the boot of Ford got them back into contention.

But it was too little too late as Saracens saw the game out somewhat comfortably in the end, although Bath head coach Mike Ford believes this isn’t the last we will see of his current crop at Twickenham.

“We will learn to get better as we always do and hopefully this time next year we will pull it all together and build on this,” Ford said.

“This is only two years in the making and Saracens have been playing their style of rugby for quite some time and this is only their second final they have won so they have lost a few finals too.

“This is something we believe in, this is not about throwing the football about, we are about making good decisions and creating an environment that makes the players make decisions, which we have done.

“But you have to give credit to Saracens, we made two mistakes and they scored 14 points from them and that ultimately cost us the game.

“I have been saying this for a while but this Bath team is going to win trophies for a long, long time. We have not quite cracked it yet but it is only small margins.

“We are really, really close and this is only two years in the making, we will keep learning detail and achieve what we want to achieve.

“It’s been tough to break into the top four these last four or five years and we have made lots of people stand up and take notice, we have not quite cracked it but I am very proud of my players.”
 
Bath Rugby: Watson 9Devoto 7); Rokoduguni, Joseph, Eastmond, Banahan; Ford, Stringer (Cook 67); James (Auterac 47), Batty (Webber 47), Wilson (Thomas 49), Hooper (Day 54), Attwood (Garvey 58), Burgess, Louw, Houston (Fearns 60)
 
Saracens: Goode; Strettle (Ashton 60), Taylor, Barritt (Hodgson 69), Wyles; Farrell, Wigglesworth (de Kock 55); M Vunipola (Barrington 77), George (Brits 53), Du Plessis (Figallo 49), Kruis, Hargreaves (Wray 33), Itoje (Hamilton 70), Burger, B Vunipola
 
Scorers
 
Bath Rugby

Tries: Joseph
Conversions: Ford
Penalties: Ford 3
 
Saracens
Tries: Farrell, George, Wyles
Conversions: Farrell 2
Penalties: Farrell 3
 
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Attendance: 80,589
 

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