Saracens Storm claimed a thrilling 33-26 victory over Bath United in the first round of the Premiership Rugby Shield at the Rec on Saturday afternoon.
The Blue, Black and White came away with two bonus-points during the game, after scoring four tries against last season’s Shield champions.
It was the visitors who opened the scoring just six minutes into the game, with scrum-half Tom Whitely mazing his way through the defensive line to go over the whitewash. Whitely converted his own score [0-7]
Bath responded well to the early score. Fox almost found a way through a stubborn Saracens backline. The scrum-half linked up well with Will Vaughan, Alex Davies and Tom de Glanville before being stopped on the 22, as the visitors cleared the danger.
The visitors then added a second score on 17 minutes as Andy Christie crashed over the whitewash after a crushing run through the centre of the backline from the hosts’ 22. Whitely added his second conversion of the afternoon to extend the score. [0-14]
The visitors were in full ascendency in the first quarter of the half. Saracens’ Whitely again causing problems from the set piece, the scrum-half peeled away after spotting the gap on the blindeside, and put through a neat grubber for winger Elliot Obatoyinbo to go over in the corner. [0-19]
The hosts continued to apply pressure and after a series of penalties awarded to Bath in the Saracens 22, Alex Davies put ball to boot with a delightful crossfield attempt but de Glanville was unable to connect on the other end.
But it was Bath who kept going and scored on the stroke of half-time, Fox was the beneficiary of a swift offload from de Glanville who shipped the ball out the back of his hands, which saw the scrum-half cruise in under the posts. Alex Davies added the extras to leave the hosts trailing by 12 points at the break. [7-19]
Half-time – Bath United 7-19 Saracens Storm
The Blue, Black and White continued to apply pressure in the second period and after a series of penalties, Saracens’ Rhys Carre was sent to the sin-bin following an infringement at the breakdown.
Bath United’s guest Will Scott scored two minutes after half-time, the winger dotted down after receiving the ball from an offload following a powerful driving maul from the hosts. Davies converted to bring the Bath back within four points. [14-19]
Whitely was then gifted the opportunity to extend Storms narrow lead back to seven points, but he slotted his effort from 25-yards out just wide of the uprights.
The visitors looked to continue their pressure on the hosts and did just that as Matt Gallagher found his way over. The full-back went over after a scrum in midfield, the ball was shipped wide and after a grubber through Obatoyinbo offloaded to Gallagher who went over under the challenge of George Worboys. Whitely added the extra two. [14-26]
United were able to gain some territory and apply pressure on halfway, and as Bath continued to surge forward, they got their reward for persistent attacking play as de Glanville crossed to score. The inside centre went over in the corner after Gabe Hamer-Webb crashed through the defensive line and offloaded for de Glanville to go in untouched. [19-26]
In the closing stages of the game with less than two minutes on the clock, Christie found his way over to score his second of the game. The no. 8 did well to block the charge down from Fox and dived on top of the loose ball to score. Whitely added another two to take his afternoon total to 13-points. [26-33]
After allowing the restart, Bath looked determined to gain a bonus-point from the game after a frustrating second period. The hosts charged down the field after successive penalties went against Saracens, Davies kicked to touch for a last ditch five metre line-out.
From the resulting set piece, a powerful driving maul was formed by the forwards and Levi Douglas dotted down as the drive passed the whitewash. Davies took his time and converted the extra two points to make the losing deficit seven points. [26-33]
Full-time – Bath United 26-33 Saracens Storm
15. George Worboys, 14. Joey Patrick, 13. Will Butt, 12. Tom de Glanville, 11. Gabe Hamer-Webb, 10. Alex Davies (C), 9. Ollie Fox; 1. Will Vaughan, 2. Tom Doughty, 3. Sam Nixon, 4. Will Britton, 5. Levi Douglas, 6. Tom Jeanes, 7. Lewis Beer, 8. Jack Davies
16. Sam Elrick, 17. Arthur Cordwell, 18. Kieran Verden, 19. Simone Elrick, 20. Will Scott, 21. Rusi Waqa, 22. Jack Skelton, 23. Frankie Smith