Bath Rugby were beaten by the reigning English champions tonight at the Rec, losing an ill-tempered match 10-30 to Saracens.
The opening four minutes were full of promise for Bath, spearheaded by the remarkable ability of Anthony Watson to break the tackle - as well as a different type of threat by the heavyweight Charlie Ewels with the ball in hand.
Alas, Saracens made the slightest opportunity count and, in the fourth minute, piled into an overthrown Bath lineout in the home 22 to score out wide through openside Will Fraser, converted by Owen Farrell. 0-7.
The home crowd made their displeasure known when Bath were penalised at a scrum in their half, which allowed Farrell to knock over a penalty that extended Saracens' lead. 0-10.
Before half an hour had been played, Farrell struck another penalty in front of Bath's posts to extend Saracens' lead to 13 points.
In their next visit to Bath's 22, Saracens fullback Alex Goode puts in a lightning-quick pass for replacement back Mike Ellery to score in the corner. Farrell's conversion attempt hit the woodwork for the second time in the first half, leaving the score at 0-18.
Despite the tit-for-tat nature of the scrum, Bath's appeared to have the upper hand overall in the first 40 minutes, and so it proved in the final minute of the first act: a penalty scrum that saw George Ford end the lacklustre half with a three-pointer.
Half-time: Bath Rugby 3 - 18 Saracens
Before Bath could get an opportunity to claw back some points in the second half, Anthony Watson was shown a red card in the 50th minute for what the referee judged to be a dangerous tackle in the air.
Bath's problems were exacerbated just two minutes later as they saw scrum-half Chris Cook sent to the bin for an illegal tackle. The duo's absence told in the 53rd minute when Chris Ashton scored in the corner - Farrell's missed conversion offering the smallest crumb of comfort for Bath. 3-23.
After the hour, a clever chip from Bath into the Saracens 22 forced the visitors to knock the ball into touch inside the in-goal area. From Bath's 5m lineout, their strong maul allowed replacement number eight Leroy Houston to dive over for the try, converted wonderfully by Ford. 10-23.
Ten minutes remained when Fraser received the ball on the wing in Bath's 22, drawing the defender and passing back inside for Ashton to score his second try. Farrell's conversion was good, taking Saracens' points tally to 30.
Full time: Bath Rugby 10-30 Saracens
1 April 2016
Referee: Greg Garner
Half Time score: 3-18
- Tries: Houston (62)
- Conversions: Ford (63)
- Penalties: Ford (40)
- Tries: Fraser (5), Ellery (31), Ashton (54, 69)
- Conversions: Farrell (7, 70)
- Penalties: Farrell (11, 27)