Saracens took a giant step away from the Premiership’s relegation zone by demolishing Worcester to earn only their second league victory since November.
Tevita Vaikona, Mark Bartholemeusz, Moses Rauluni and Dan Scarbrough scored the tries at Vicarage Road with Glen Jackson adding three conversions and a penalty to move them 12 points clear of bottom side Leeds.
Mike Ford’s side may have to face big guns Wasps, Leicester and London Irish on the final three weekends of the season but victory against Leeds at Headingley on April 7 would almost certainly guarantee their top-flight status.
Worcester, by contrast, are marooned in mid-table and folded alarmingly after withstanding long spells of first-half pressure.
Shane Drahm landed a long-range penalty in the first half and their two tries came in injury time, when back-row replacement Saosi Vaili and wing Aisea Havili touched down consolation scores.
Saracens made just one change to the side that won 15-9 at under-strength Sale the previous weekend, bringing Kevin Yates in for Nick Lloyd at loosehead. Worcester restored Pat Sanderson in the back-row after their captain recovered
from the back injury that had ruled him out of England’s ill-fated Six Nations campaign.
Sanderson spent most of the first half on the back-foot, though, as Saracens dominated territory and earned plenty of possession for their forwards to hammer away and for Vaikona to unsettle the visitors.
They opened the game in textbook style, driving a maul and kicking for position to set up Vaikona’s third-minute score. Kevin Sorrell cut back to suck in defenders and Jackson’s huge overhead pass gave the Tongan the space to score
in the corner.
They might have been further ahead at the interval but Jackson missed the conversion and a straightforward penalty shot before opening his account from 30 metres after 12 minutes.
Despite Vaikona’s bruising presence and a surging break down the left by Dan Scarbrough, the momentum ebbed away from Saracens in a scrappy second quarter and Drahm gave Worcester encouragement with a superb penalty after half an hour from wide on the left and 55 metres out.
They were punished a minute before the break, though, when the bounce of Shane Byrne’s long lineout throw allowed centre Ben Johnston to burst through a static midfield from half-way. Bartholemeusz finished off the move and Jackson
converted for 15-3 interval lead.
Worcester’s best hope was to score first in the second half but despite camping in the opposition 22 for 10 minutes they could not control the ball for long enough and Saracens went straight down the other end of the field to score
two tries in seven minutes.
Andy Gomarsall scrambled back to deny Hugh Vyvyan after Scarbrough had darted down the left, only for the ball to come back to Jackson, whose pass out of the tackle allowed replacement scrum-half Rauluni to force his way over.
Then the demoralised Worcester defence could not cope with Johnston’s teasing break, with Scarbrough perfectly placed for a clear run to the line.
Jackson converted twice to put Saracens out of sight after picking up a rare bonus point for scoring four tries – they needed two penalty try awards to do so against Bath in February – that lifts them 12 points clear of relegation favourites Leeds.
Vaili added a consolation score from the back of a scrum – one area Worcester competed well in – and Havili got away down the right for a second try from the last move of the match with Drahm converting.