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Sarries comeback not enough

12 Feb 2006
Sarries comeback not enough

Diamond parted company with the club last week with a poor run of results recently cited as one of the reasons.

And head coach Mike Ford and ex-Australian supremo Eddie Jones have a job on their hands to ensure their side does not put in another first-half performance like this one, which was as woeful as they could have imagined.

However, Saracens almost produced an unbelievable comeback after the break as their pack hammered the visitors and referee Ashley Rowden awarded two penalty tries and sin-binned two Bath players.

It yielded them two bonus points, one for scoring four tries and another for losing by less than seven points.

Bath cut the men in black to pieces in the first half and that was despite missing six players on international duty this weekend.

It was that bad in the opening 40 minutes the home fans booed their team off the pitch.

Bath have begun to look like the team which has qualified for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals and Powergen Cup semis this season after turning around their dismal Premiership fortunes under new coach Brian Ashton.

They were only a point ahead of bottom-placed Leeds in the table before the match and four behind Saracens but, within half an hour, were almost out of sight.

Bath were 14 points up within 10 minutes after a blindside break down the wing from scrum-half Nick Walshe helped set-up winger Frikkie Welsh for the first try.

A second touchdown from lock James Hudson, who latched onto the ball when it was spilled 10 yards from the Saracens line by home full-back Mark Bartholomeusz under pressure, gave Bath more momentum.

And despite home fly-half Glen Jackson booting a 20-yard penalty the tide was very much in Bath’s favour.

Within half an hour the visitors, who have only taken one bonus point for scoring four tries in a match this season, had their third when a tremendous move from a line-out on the Saracens 22 saw Walshe, fly-half Chris Malone and
flanker Michael Lipman combine before French wing David Bory went over from 10 yards.

Just after the half-hour came that decisive fourth try as another dashing move through some miserable Saracens defence saw number eight and captain Zak Feau’nati link with flanker Andy Beattie, who was tackled inches short of the home line. Centre Alex Crockett, though, was supporting to pick-up and fall over the line.

Malone had also kicked all four conversions and added a penalty to compound Saracens’ woe and, at 31-3, it looked all over before the second half had even begun.

Ford, temporarily in charge before Jones’ arrival, beefed up his troubled team with three half-time replacements and Saracens started to make a fist of a match which was quickly going away from them minus a scoring surge.

They reached the Bath try-line moments after the re-start as the forwards powered the opposition eight back in a driving maul only to again lose out.

However, Saracens proved endeavour can reap rewards by giving themselves half a chance of completing an incredible comeback.

Their pack powered the Bath eight backwards at an attacking scrum to the extent that Ashton’s men were guilty of pulling down the set-piece which left referee Rowden with no option but to award a penalty try which Jackson converted.

The big controversy came, though, as Saracens muscled their way to the opposition line on the hour. Twice referee Rowden reached for his yellow card to sin-bin prop David Flatman and Feau’nati for coming in on the wrong side of a
driving maul that was going over the line.

And, when a six-man Bath scrum collapsed, Rowden awarded a second penalty try. Suddenly Saracens were back to within 14 points.

The miracle continued as flanker Steffon Armitage, on his full debut, dived in at the corner for Saracens’ third touchdown. Crucially, Jackson’s conversion failed to reach the posts and, with only five minutes remaining, Bath were
awarded a 45-yard penalty that, despite loud booing, Malone kicked for a 12-point cushion.

But the men in black got themselves to within five points at the final whistle when Armitage added another try and Jackson converted.

Match Page 2017-18 - Lineups

Match Page 2017-18 - Current Standing

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