Rhys Priestland scored six penalties, as he helped Bath Rugby record a hard-fought 18-9 victory over reigning Gallagher Premiership Champions Saracens at the Rec.
It was a strong start from Bath, with Elliott Stooke showing his intent from the outset with a barnstorming run through the Saracens defence. Bath remained patient through the phases in the 22, which resulted in a penalty. Rhys Priestland took the opportunity to put his side in front with just four minutes on the clock. Saracens responded six minutes later, with Lozowski levelling the scores with a penalty of his own. [3-3]
Wet and windy conditions tested both sides at the Rec in a hugely attritional contest. Saracens continued to test the resolve of the home defence, but the Blue, Black and White held firm. Bath took their opportunity when it arose, with Priestland slotting a straight forward kick from in front of the posts. [6-3]
The Blue, Black and White continued to keep the champions at bay, with the competition's highest scorers unable to break through the resolute Bath defence. It was in fact Bath who kept the scoreboard ticking over with another penalty to send his side into the interval with a six-point lead.
Half time – Bath Rugby 9-3 Saracens
Saracens quickly reduced the deficit after the interval, with Bath penalised at the scrum shortly after the restart. Lozowski pointed for the posts and his kick sailed through the uprights. [9-6]
Saracens continued to apply the pressure and after missing an earlier attempt, Lozowski's brought his side level with another penalty with just under 30 minutes to play. [9-9]
After a slow start to the half, Bath needed a response. Two successive penalties saw Bath move to within five metres of the Saracens line. A further infringement in the 22 gave the referee no option but to show replacement Ben Earl the yellow card. Priestland put Bath back into the ascendancy, adding another three points to his tally. [12-9]
Despite being down to 14 men, Saracens drew another penalty, but Lozowski missed his mark, as his kick drifted right of the posts. However, the tie took another turn with Ross Batty sent to the sin-bin for blocking Alex Lewington, as Saracens looked to capitalise on a kick over the top. Lozowski eyed up another kick at goal, but couldn't convert the points, with Bath holding a narrow advantage going into the final 10 minutes. [12-9]
With Saracens back up to their full compliment, they continued to rally but Bath were not ready to surrender their lead. It was fitting that Man of the Match Elliott Stooke came up with a crucial play, as the second row turned back rower secured possession following a line-out in the opposition half. With penalty advantage looming, replacement Kahn Fotuali'i showed his experience to slow the ball down to give Priestland another chance at goal. The fly-half kept his composure and found his target to further extend Bath's lead. [15-9]
Priestland put the game out of reach with two minutes to go to prevent Saracens coming away with a losing bonus-point. Bath closed out the final stages to record a memorable victory in front of a 14,055 crowd at the Rec.
Full-time - Bath Rugby 18-9 Saracens
8 March 2019
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Half Time score: 9-3
- Penalties: Priestland (4, 26, 37, 61, 74, 78)
- Penalties: Lozowski (11, 43, 51)