6 years ago
3 May 2008, 12:00am
With an awesome display of attacking rugby, Bath Rugby got one step closer to clinching that much desired silverware this evening. With nine tries in total, Bath Rugby impressively and categorically obliterated Saracens, with a 66 -21 final score.
Determined to make enough of an impact to ensure a home semi-final, Bath were on the attack from the off. Within three minutes, the home side were deep inside Saracen's 22, with Daniel Browne powering up towards the right wing. Unable to make up the distance to the white line, the ball was passed back out towards the centre where Alex Crockett offloaded to Lipman, who in turn passed to Michael Claassens and Steve Borthwick. With every member of the Bath contingent seeming to get their hands on the ball, Saracens offended and Olly Barkley's left-foot was put into scoring action as Bath were awarded a penalty kick after six minutes.
One minute later, Bath were catapulted into a 10-point lead, as some swift passing from Claassens to Maddock, gave the winger the chance to move into the midfield, where he made a rapid pass to Michael Lipman. The openside made some good ground, as a show and go fooled the opposition and enabled Lipman to get the ball to Abendanon, who offloaded to the supporting Browne for the try. With Barkley successfully converting, Bath enjoyed a healthy advantage.
After fifteen minutes, a lengthy kick by Saracens failed to upset the home side, as Maddock plucked the ball mid-air with his right hand and held on to make up the distance gained by the kick. Without time to align their defence, Saracens allowed Barkley to slip through their back line as he touched down uncontested behind the posts for the second try of the match. Converting his own try, Barkley took Bath up to a 17 point lead, with 20 minutes to go in the first half.
Reiterating why Bath are favourites for the top two places of the Guinness Premiership, international hooker, Lee Mears, remained on his feet long enough to get the ball from the halfway line to within feet of the 22 metre line. Showing great balance, Mears made an excellent inside pass to Alex Crockett, who wasted no time in offloading to Lipman who ghosted over the line for a further five points. Another conversion from Bath's inside centre gave the west-country team 24 points on the scoreboard at just 23 minutes.
Having been starved of possession, Saracens attempted to claw back some much needed points as they made a rare forage into the Bath 22. But after Jonny Faamatuainu prevented Sorrell from continuing with his charge, Mears got back into the fray, picking up the ball, and kicking it for the lively Maddock to chase. With just eight minutes left of the first half, the New Zealander was rewarded for his efforts and handed Bath the bonus point as he soared over the line in the right-hand corner. True to form, Barkley once again made the conversion. Stamping their unmistakable mark on the match, Butch James exploded down the left-wing a mere two minutes later for the fifth try of the match. The conversion took Bath up to a 38-0 lead.
One minute into injury time and the relentless onslaught from Bath continued. After collecting a pass from full back Nick Abendanon, Matt Banahan ran almost the length of the pitch on the left wing to slam the ball down over the line for yet another Premiership try. Although the men in white tried bravely to push Bath back into their own 22 and get some points on the scoreboard, the Bath defence, coupled with the converted try by Banahan, left the scoreline at 45-0 at the break.
Secure in the knowledge that the game was all but won, the intense pressure put on Saracens in the first half was eased somewhat. The Watford side failed to take advantage until almost ten minutes, after a series of offences in the ruck and mauls. Saracens' Adam Powell saw a gap in the midfield and burst through the Bath defence for their first try of the match and after a good kick between the uprights, Saracens had seven points on board.
After Bath were penalised for a tackle on Dave Seymour under the guise of 'an illegal tackle', Saracens were able to take the action back inside Bath's 22. Following his fellow South African team-mate to the sin bin, James was yellow-carded just as Michael Claassens returned to the pitch. With the fly half out of action, Saracens prop Kevin Yates was able to battle through the blue, black and white shirts to crawl over the line for five points. After another conversion from Glenn Jackson, Saracens had 14 points to Bath's 45.
With the final quarter looming, the retiring Zak Feaunati, entered the park to a standing ovation. With Saracens attempting to hold back the hosts right on the line, they failed to notice Lipman, who slipped from the back of the ruck to plant the ball over the line with an outstretched right arm. Continuing with his 100% conversion record for the match, Barkley notched the score up to 52 - 14.
With ten minutes left on the clock and possession remaining inside Saracens' 22, Andrew Higgins, having just replaced Matt Banahan, made a forceful tackle on Seymour mid-charge and offloaded to Nick Walshe who slipped over the line. Having replaced Claassens at 63 minutes, his fresh legs took him straight up to the try line, but with a foot in touch, the try was not allowed. The ecstatic Bath fans didn't wait long for the eighth explosive try though, as Barkley slipped round the back of the visitor's defence, and over the white line. For the second time in the evening, Barkley converted his own try, taking Bath to an outstanding 59-14 lead.
Refusing to get to full-time without some more points, Kameli Ratuvou exploded through the Bath 22 to take the visitors score to 19, and with a successful conversion by Gordon Ross, they managed to win 21 points. However, it was not enough to stop a formidable Bath and as the clock began to reach it's final minute, Higgins planted the ninth try for Bath. As man of the match Barkley made the conversion, Bath soared to an incredible 66 - 21 victory.
By Kate Oram
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