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Match Report: Saracens 53 Bath Rugby 10

26 Mar 2017
Match Report: Saracens 53 Bath Rugby 10

Chris Ashton scored twice to become the record scorer at Allianz Park as Saracens enjoyed a fruitful afternoon to keep the pressure on Aviva Premiership Rugby leaders Wasps.

The wing added a second-half brace to make the most of a tiring Bath Rugby side, while Schalk Brits, Brad Barritt and Billy Vunipola also added scores in the final 40 minutes.

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 lineout 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 Ashton at the heart of the move, the latter finding Alex Goode to dive over in the corner for his 20th Aviva Premiership Rugby 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 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 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, 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 Aviva Premiership Rugby 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 Aviva Premiership Rugby table.

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