Match Report | Saracens Men 40-3 Bath Rugby
Written by Ben Hart
Saracens Men marked the opening of the new West Stand in fitting style with a 40-3 victory over struggling Bath at the StoneX Stadium.
The Men in Black secured a bonus-point victory inside an hour and returned to second in the Premiership table in front of a feverish home crowd.
Saracens came flying out the blocks and took an early lead after a succession of penalties, the ever-reliable Alex Lozowski kicking the first points of the afternoon.
The hosts came close to crossing the line for the first time when Tom Woolstencroft burst through after an inside pass from Mako Vunipola. But a late interception foiled hopes of a try for Sean Maitland on his 100th Sarries appearance.
Bath grew into the game and for a five minute spell were camped in the Sarries half until Manu Vunipola’s dancing feet provided an escape.
The respite was short-lived and a first score for the visitors seemed likely when they were awarded a penalty just metres from the Sarries line. It took a huge defensive effort to haul Nathan Hughes into touch and the home crowd breathed a collective sigh of relief.
And Bath were left to rue their missed opportunity when Andy Christie tore a hole in the Bath defence and put the hosts on the front foot once more. Lozowski then slotted another close-range penalty to extend the score to 6-0.
But the lead was immediately halved when former Sarries scrum-half Ben Spencer kicked Bath’s first points after some foul play at the breakdown.
Sarries continued to threaten with quick hands and neat movement off Vunipola at 10 but could not quite turn their dominance into points.
The momentum looked as though it might have swung on a monstrous kick down field by Spencer after a turnover on the Bath 22. The covering Alex Goode was forced into decisive action as he booted the ball into touch. But again Bath were denied by a titanic defensive effort, this time Vincent Koch was the man mugged by his teammates after pressure from the South African at the breakdown.
Sarries again patiently worked their way downfield and after a couple of destructive lineout drives believed that Woolstencroft had the game’s first try. After consulting the TMO, referee Sara Cox awarded Sarries the try to send the new West Stand into raptures.
The gong sounded for half-time but Sarries weren’t finished and scored a nearly identical try with Woolstencroft again going over following a powerful drive. Lozowski corrected his miss from the previous try and added the extras to make the half-time score 18-3.
Lozowski added another three within five minutes of the second period as the hosts looked to put the game to bed. Just moments later a crucial third score courtesy of Goode looked to have done just that. The full-back raced through the Bath line and after an exchange of passes with Ben Earl dotted down to make it 26-3.
The Men in Black then attacked a labouring Bath defence at will but the offloads wouldn’t quite stick as a bonus point score alluded them for the time being.
But on the hour mark that landmark came via a sublime finish by Alex Lewington. A miss pass from Goode set the winger clear in the Bath 22 and he snuck into the corner to make the points safe.
A host of young faces then arrived from the bench to provide fresh legs and played a big role in Sarries sixth and final score of the afternoon. Theo McFarland walked in from close range after catching the Bath defence off guard.
The comfortable victory and equally impressive performance provide a welcome boost ahead of a crunch home fixture with Harlequins next Sunday.