Bath Rugby ended Saracens' unbeaten run in the Aviva Premiership at the Rec tonight, beating last season's domestic and European finalists 21-11.
In defeating the London side, Bath also ensured that Saracens came away from the Rec with nothing following their five previous successful visits to the city. It was a fitting result too, since this was tighthead prop David Wilson's 100th appearance for the Club.
The match was a pulsating affair from the start. Just over ten minutes had passed when eventual Man of the Match Semesa Rokoduguni received the ball on his wing, stepped opposite wing David Strettle and took the ball up. It soon found its way to Eastmond, who dashed ahead into Saracens' half and popped inside to Jonathan Joseph to score. George Ford converted to make it 7-0.
Saracens fly-half Charlie Hodgson got the first points for his team with a 19th-minute penalty after a collapsed scrum Ford then watched as two penalty attempts in short succession failed shortly thereafter, but the third – from very much a similar position as the first two – was a good one. Bath now led 10-3 with almost 30 minutes played.
Five minutes before half time, fullback Alex Goode stepped up to take a penalty in front of the posts, with Hodgson receiving treatment. 10-6.
The first half was nearly up when fullback Gavin Henson launched a counterattack. Houston then carried up with Joseph in support. The ball was recycled out to the Bath wing for a near certain try, before it was deliberately knocked down by Chris Ashton. The Saracens winger was sin-binned and Ford delivered another penalty kick to the noisy Rec crowd.
Half time: Bath Rugby 13 – 6 Saracens
It was a breathless start to the second half which then erupted six minutes in. Alafoti Fa'osiliva swept through a midfield gap and thudded into his opponent. Joseph was on hand, as always, and shot out wide in Saracens' 22, finding his midfield partner in support to finish off the move. Ford was unable to convert Eastmond's try. 18-6.
There followed over 10 minutes of obstinate defence by the home side, with the men in Blue, Black and White having to shackle Saracens' heavy strike runners – often in twos.
The visitors' perseverance eventually paid off with almost an hour gone when inside centre Chris Wyles slid over in the corner. Goode failed with the conversion. 18-11.
On their restart, Bath were determined to put more room than a converted try between their opponents. They chased Ford's kick with great speed, pressurising Saracens into a short clearance kick. From the lineout that followed, Saracens pulled down the Bath jumper, allowing Ford to extend Bath's lead with a penalty. 21-11.
There were still 20 minutes of play left, but incredibly 21-11 is how the score remained. Bath even spurned a simple three points in order to wind down the clock – and maybe even get another score – but then knocked on with the line beckoning. A record 13,314 crowd at the Rec broke into euphoric applause as the referee eventually called time.
Full time: Bath Rugby 21 – 11 Saracens
3 October 2014
Referee: Greg Garner
Half Time score: 13-6
- Tries: Joseph (11), Eastmond (46)
- Conversions: Ford (12)
- Penalties: Ford (26, 39, 60)
- Tries: Wyles (57)
- Penalties: Hodgson (18), Goode (34)