Bath Rugby fell to a 20-9 defeat to Saracens at Vicarage Road this afternoon, as a try from David Strettle and 15 points from full-back Alex Goode saw the home side to victory.
Bath started the game strongly, attacking the Saracens gain line with purpose. After a handful of phases fly half Butch James put a neat grubber kick through, allowing fullback Nick Abendanon to pressurise the defender and force an attacking five metre scrum. With the scrum breaking down, referee Nigel Owens issued Bath a penalty, but James couldn't find his angle.
Ten minutes had passed and the tables turned, as Bath conceded a penalty for collapsing the scrum. Saracens fullback Alex Goode stepped up and provided the first points of the game taking the home side 3-0 up.
Saracens were soon on the attack again and some staunch defence from Bath prevented outside centre Chris Wyles from touching down, with the TMO deciding the ball was held up. However, Saracens persistence prevailed as Bath's defence was seen to be offside, providing Goode with another chance at an easy three points, which he duly converted. 6-0.
Five minutes remained in the half and Bath surged forwards just inside Saracen's half. Michael Claassens attempted to provide the backs with quick ball but to be obstructed by an opposing defender. A penalty signalled, James went for the sticks and struck the ball beautifully, reducing the deficit by three points.
The clock had ticked away and although time was up in the half, Saracens kept the ball in play and were plugging away at the Bath defensive line. Retaining the ball for a considerable number of phases, Saracens' patience prevailed and England winger David Strettle broke into the line at pace, weaving his way through the defenders to touch down. Goode missed the conversion, making the half time score 11-3.
Fifteen minutes had passed in the second half with no score, both teams trying to break each other's solid defence. Saracens again attacked hard and tried to fight their way towards the try line, but Bath's tight defence reacted well until they were penalised for entering the ruck from the side. Goode succeeded with the straight forward penalty, increasing the lead to 14-3.
Almost immediately Bath hit back, as Saracens were deemed to have offended just left of the uprights. James was again on target and slotted the kick reducing the deficit to eight points. 14-6.
Moments later, Saracens were back on the counter after a quickly taken lineout. Quick hands and good vision from young fly half Owen Farrell broke through the defence and offloaded to his outside man only for an excellent covering tackle to be made by Shontayne Hape. Despite that, Bath conceded another penalty for not entering the ruck from the back foot. Goode was on target again providing another three points. 17-6.
An exchange of penalties looked to be developing as James soon after replied with a long range effort, but for Goode to stretch the lead again moments later, which proved to be the last points of the game. Final-score 20-9.