Alex Goode marked his return to the Saracens starting line-up with a try as his side maintained their perfect start to the season to sit top of the Aviva Premiership with victory over Bath Rugby.
The Allianz Park outfit scored all their points in a pulsating first-half as two tries from David Strettle, one from Matt Stevens and Goode’s first Aviva Premiership try for in 11 months gave them a 31-3 half-time lead.
Bath responded in the second-half and scored 14 unanswered points in a strong fight-back which saw Semesa Rokoduguni and Dave Attwood go over but the damage had been done and Sarries emerged as the only unbeaten side left in the Aviva Premiership.
Sarries started with intent and, after some strong ball carrying from Mako Vunipola, Bath conceded the first penalty of the game – Owen Farrell making no mistake to give his side the lead on three minutes.
Bath responded with a solid scrum deep inside Saracens’ half which set up a great attacking position for the visitors and after the ball was lost forward inches from the try-line, Tom Heathcote levelled things up as referee JP Doyle came back for an early penalty.
On nine minutes Bath stole a Saracens lineout as the ball was tapped back in their favour but it was Vunipola who reacted quickest to snatch up the loose ball and put his side in a strong attacking position.
The ball was quickly recycled and a series of slick passes eventually put the ball in Strettle’s hands and the in-form winger raced in to score – Farrell adding the extras to take the score onto 10-3.
A defensive mix-up between Anthony Watson and Tom Biggs – both going for the same high ball and neither able to claim it – then gave Saracens a strong attacking position from which Goode touched down on his return.
Bath were really under the quash at this point and after a series of Saracens line-outs and driving mauls the pressure finally told and Stevens dived over for his side’s third try.
Rob Webber was sent to the bin following a succession of penalties conceded by Bath on 32 minutes and following another line-out after his departure it was Stevens who went over.
And Mark McCall’s side sealed the try bonus-point with the last action of the first-half through Strettle who touched down in the corner for his second of the afternoon – Farrell completed a perfect half of kicking to take the score to 31-3 at the break.
An excellent Watson break set up an early opportunity for Bath to score first in the second half but after spending much of the opening ten minutes in the Sarries half they had no points to show for their efforts.
The first points of the second-half did eventually go to Bath in the 57th minute but in rather fortunate circumstances as Rokoduguni intercepted a Goode pass and ran the length of the field to score under the posts.
George Ford, on as a half-time substitute for Heathcote, made a huge difference to the speed of Bath’s play and after a clever break inside the final ten minutes he was only denied a try by Chris Ashton.
On 75 minutes Saracens replacement hooker Jamie George was penalised for throwing the ball in too early and Bath capitalised as Attwood touched down next to the post to give Bath their second try of the game.
They threatened to add a third as the clock ticked past the 80-minute mark but Saracens soaked up the pressure of a final Bath attack to seal their third straight bonus-point win.