A try in injury time by David Bory, with Olly Barkley's conversion, gave Bath a draw against Saracens at the Rec on Saturday, ensuring they extended their unbeaten home run to seven matches.
But the team had let slip a 13-nil lead, and Steve Meehan, the Head Coach, viewed the result as two points lost, rather than two gained. "We should have won that game well and truly," he said afterwards. "I am bitterly disappointed - and so is the team."
The rain had held off for most of the morning, but began to fall again just as the teams emerged from the changing room, as if on cue. Just five minutes had passed before Barkley gave Bath the lead, with a penalty goal in front of the posts at the Hamptons Stand end, taken 15 yards out, when the front rows went down at the scrum.
Bath continued to dominate territory, and though pushed into touch on the left wing as they attacked, Saracens infringed at the lineout and Barkley punished them again with another well-struck penalty.
A penalty the other way allowed Saracens to make inroads into Bath's half, as they kicked to touch, but Matt Cairns's throw-in to the lineout was not straight, and Bath regained possession. The visiting forwards did their best to keep Bath penned back, but fell offside and Bath cleared to touch. Excellent work by Matt Stevens and the forwards helped Bath to build a good series of attacking phases, and Bory came close to scoring on the left wing. But the good work was undone by crossing, and Saracens relieved the pressure.
The soggy turf inevitably influenced the nature of the game. A chip by Joe Maddock which looked at if it might bobble over Saracens' line actually stopped in the mud inches short, forcing the visitors to clear to touch. From the lineout, the forwards put on an exemplary display of the pick-and-drive technique, and though the defence at close quarters held up well, eventually Bath's patience paid off, as the ball was released to Chris Malone and the fly-half jigged through to score. Malone kindly ran round under the posts to make the conversion easy for Barkley.
But Saracens soon struck back with their first points when Karemi Ratavou was released in space down the left wing. Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu's excellent tackle prevented the wing from reaching the line, but Bath were penalised at the resulting ruck. Saracens took the penalty quickly, sucking in the forwards before releasing the ball to the backs, and Tomas de Vedia, cutting a useful angle, scored.
Half time was due, but first Saracens had time for another try. After a simple attack down the right-hand side of the field, Jackson's well-timed offload put veteran flanker Richard Hill in and, with Jackson's successful conversion, the visitors led by a point at half-time.
After the break, Bath attacked vigorously but tough tackling by Saracens kept them out, and they then extended their lead when Jackson slotted a penalty given by the referee for failing to roll away in the tackle.
The luck seemed to be going the visitors' way, when Kris Chesney fell into possession of the ball at a Bath scrum and steamed towards the Bath line. An excellent tackle by Andy Williams brought him down, and the ball went forward. But Saracens were awarded a penalty, and Bath had to defend stoutly as they opted for the scrum. A superb tackle by Fuimaono-Sapolu helped relieve the pressure, but the home side fell foul of the referee at the ruck again, and Jackson slotted another penalty.
For much of the second half, the initiative remained with Saracens, and though Bath attempted to fight back, nothing seemed to go to hand. But suddenly Bath found themselves in range of the visitors' line, after Barkley had opened up the defence initially back on halfway. The forwards pressed on to the line, but were just held up. From the five-metre scrum that followed, Bory ran onto the ball at pace and, though tackled, twisted round to score near the posts. Barkley's conversion tied the scores, and it remained 20-all when the whistle went.
5: Penalty Barkley, 3-0
12: Pen Barkley, 6-0
30: Try Malone, Conversion Barkley, 13-0
37: Try De Vedia, Con Jackson, 13-7
40+1: Try Hill, Con Jackson, 13-14
49: Pen Jackson, 13-17
60: Pen Jackson, 13-20
80+5: Try Bory, Con Barkley, 20-20
BATH: 15. J Maddock 14. C Walker (Berne, 69) 13. E Fuimaono-Sapolu 12. O Barkley 11. D Bory 10. C Malone 9. A Williams (Walshe, 57) 1. D Barnes 2. P Dixon 3. M Stevens 4. S Borthwick (c) 5. P Short (Louw, 80+2) 6. A Beattie 7. M Lipman (Scaysbrook, 75) 8. I Feaunati (Delve, 57)
Replacements: 16. A Jarvis 17. R Hawkins 18. H Lowe 19. J Scaysbrook 20. N Walshe 21. S Berne 22. M Stephenson
SARACENS: 15. D Scarbrough 14. T de Vedia (Haughton, 69) 13. R Penney 12. K Sorrell 11. K Ratuvou 10. G Jackson 9. N de Kock (Dickens, 80) 1. N Lloyd (Johnston, 64) 2. M Cairns (Byrne, 80) 3. C Visagie 4. I Fullarton (Gustard, 69) 5. S Raiwalui (captain) 6. K Chesney 7. R Hill 8. B Skirving (Ryder, 78)
Replacements: 16. S Byrne 17. C Johnston 18. T Ryder 19. P Gustard 20. A Dickens 21. T Taylor 22. R Haughton
Referee: A Small