Andy Farrell, dropped by England for the RBS 6 Nations, skippered Saracens for the first time as they secured an important GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP victory over Bath.
Farrell, leading the side in the absence of scrum half Neil de Kock, went off injured in the 43rd minute but Saracens shrugged off the loss as they returned to winning ways following successive league defeats by Bristol and Newcastle.
Two high-speed tries by South African full-back Brent Russell, who joined the London club during the summer, proved decisive.
Their other 16 points came from the boot of fly-half Glen Jackson with a 100% haul of two conversions and four penalties from his six kicks at goal to take his tally for the season to 83 from nine matches.
Bath replied with tries from Olly Barkley, fly-half Butch James and replacement Jonny Faamatuainu, whose late touchdown in the right-hand corner secured the visitors a losing bonus point.
Barkley also landed a conversion and a penalty but he missed two more conversion attempts and a simple first-half penalty which could, ultimately, have proved crucial.
Defeat for Bath, who beat leaders Gloucester in their last GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP outing, means they remain in third place after Leicester leapfrogged them to move into second with their victory over Newcastle 24 hours earlier.
After Jackson struck the first blow for Saracens with a fourth-minute penalty, James took a pass from half-back partner Michael Claassens and crashed in for a 23rd-minute try.
But it could prove to be an expensive score for the South African World Cup-winning number 10 and his club.
James damaged his shoulder powering his way over the line and looked in a lot of discomfort as he was helped off with his right arm in a support.
Saracens hit back, regaining the lead five minutes later with a superb try from Russell who split the visiting defence to race in from 40 metres.
Jackson converted and then kicked a penalty on the stroke of half-time to extend his team’s lead to 13 after Bath were caught offside in front of their own posts.
Barkley made amends for his two first-half kicking misses to reduce the deficit to one point in the 53rd minute.
The centre still had a lot to do after taking Michael Lipman’s offload but he carved his way through the Saracens defence to go over near the post and added the conversion.
But three minutes later Jackson struck again with his third penalty for the home side.
Saracens effectively secured victory when Russell produced another burst of acceleration to grab his second try in the 59th minute.
Jackson’s short chip and chase opened up the Bath defence before Adam Powell provided a slick final pass to send the South African racing in.
Despite the late attacking flurry which produced Bath’s third try, Saracens held on for victory which keeps them firmly in the hunt for an end of season play-off place.
Bath’s Lee Mears, meanwhile, staked a strong claim for the England hooking role against Wales when coach Brian Ashton names his team on Tuesday for the Six Nations opener.
The mobile Mears produced an all-action performance and did his prospects no harm, with World Cup first-choice Mark Regan doubtful with a neck injury sustained playing for Bristol yesterday.