Saracens Storm went down 14-35 to Bath United in tonight’s A League encounter at Allianz Park.
Bath United picked a strong side, with England international full-back Nick Abendanon, ex-British & Irish Lion Gavin Henson and Argentine international centre Horacio Agulla all named in their starting line-up.
Saracens Storm welcomed back James Short – the winger starting his first game since coming back from a troublesome foot injury.
The Storm had the first chance to get on the scoreboard, but scrum-half Ben Spencer missed what would usually be an easy attempt for the talented goal kicker.
Spencer quickly atoned for his place kicking error with a beautiful judged kick deep into Bath, territory. After successive scrums on the Bath line, the home side’s dominance (in particular in the front row) eventually told, as Ransom crossed for the game’s opening try – Spencer made no mistake this time from the kicking tee.
Saracens’ lead was short lived as Bath hit back immediately. Fly-half Gavin Henson marshalled his team up field, and after a few phases it was centre Ollie Devoto who finished off a well worked move – Henson converted to level the scores.
Soon after Devoto’s try, former Saracens centre Henson nudged Bath in front with a penalty kick.
The United forwards smelt blood, with the Bath front row in particular looking to atone for what was a difficult opening 20 minutes – after a strong scrummage from the Bath pack, Henson kicked his second penalty of the evening.
The Welshman repeated the feat in the 36th minute, kicking fourth attempt at goal of the evening, to give the visitors a 7-16 lead at the break.
After the interval, Bath would cross the whitewash once again. Now down to 14 men after Justin Melck’s sin binning, Bath made their numerical advantage count, with hooker Tom Dunn scoring after another strong driving maul.
Devoto, now taking kicks after Henson’s half-time withdrawal missed the conversion.
Despite the Storms endeavour it was the visitors who delivered the killer blow when blindside flanker Tom Ellis collected winger Richard Lane’s pass to score – Devoto converted.
In the closing stages a try from Tom Jubb gave the Allianz Park faithful cause for optimism – the replacement lock collected bullet pass from Luke Baldwin to coast in to score. But any hint of a miraculous Storm comeback was quickly extinguished, as Bath flanker Gilbert scored to seal a well-earned victory for the west country side.
Saracens Storm; 15.Ben Ransom; 14. James Short, 13. Tim Streather, 12. Nick Tompkins, 11. Jack Wilson; 10. Sam Stanley, 9. Ben Spencer; 1. Nick Auterac, 2. Jared Saunders, 3.Petrus Du Plessis, 4. George Kruis, 5. Eoin Sherriff, 6. Maro Itoje, 7. Matt Hankin, 8. Justin Melck ©.
Replacements (all used);
16.Scott Spurling, 17. Jake Caulfield, 18. Biyi Alo, 19. Tom Jubb, 20. Hayden Stringer, 21. Luke Baldwin, 22. Charlie Kingsman, 23. Nathan Earle. 7
Spencer (1/1), Stanley (1/1)
Bath United; 15. Nick Abendanon; 14. Richard Lane, 13. Horacio Agulla, 12. Ollie Devoto, 11. Tom Biggs; 10. Gavin Henson, 9. Chris Cook; 1. Charlie Beech, 2. Tom Dunn, 3. Kane Palma-Newport ( c ), 4. Will Spencer, 5. Ryan Caldwell, 6. Tom Ellis, 7. Mat Gilbert, 8. Will Skuse
16. Tom Woolstencroft, 17. Greg Palmer, 18. Adam Jamieson, 19. Charlie Ewels, 20. Max Northcote-Green, 21. Marcus Beer, 22. Ludi Hopkinson, 23. Pete Laverick.
Devoto, Dunn, Ellis, Gilbert
Henson (1/1) Devoto (1/2)