Convincing display fails to topple Saracens

On a crisp and cold Remembrance Sunday, Bath Rugby were in no way solemn following a respectful one minutes silence that preceded kick off. Instead, the travelling team entered the pitch with good energy and pace that was demonstrative of how they wanted to play the match and to win.

The fact that the visiting team failed to secure the victory with a final score of 30-22, did not add to their disappointment, following a slow start to the season, but instead filled the club with confidence that a good win is just around the corner, after a convincing display from all players.

The opening 10 minutes saw scores from both sides as Bath Rugby's combination of youth and experience took on Saracens strong team and put in a convincing first half performance.

After seven minutes the hosts were the first to get the digits on the score board after good interplay between Glen Jackson, Kevin Barrett and Ernst Joubert took the men in black into the visitors 22 where Bath offended. Jackson was successful at booting the ball between the sticks, but they were only able to enjoy the lead for a mere three minutes before Bath answered back.

And with 10 minutes on the clock, Bath repaid the favour. Following a scrum on 15 metre line, Daniel Browne picked up and offloaded the ball to Jonny Faamatuainu who outmuscled the Saracens scrum half, Barrett before outpacing the covering defender Hayden Smith to cross the line in the top left corner for the first try of the match. Nicky Little missed the conversion.

Bath displayed a strong defence when Saracens came back at them in an attempt to retrieve five points of their own, but even whilst they continued to battle against the Bath boys near the try line, Bath were able to hold on for a further 10 minutes, before Saracens were awarded a further penalty kick and Jackson slotted the ball between the sticks for another three points after 20 minutes.

Five minutes later, young player Scott Hobson made his mark on the match, after a kick from Stephenson shot the ball rapidly down the wing and towards the white line. With good pressure on Saracens were forced to kick the ball out. The following line out and a long period of Bath pressure allowed Hobson to nip between their defence to the right of the post and plant the ball down for five points and the second try for Bath. Little made the conversion and Bath went into the lead with 12 points to six.

However, six minutes later and Saracens had notched up five further points of their own after a try from Justin Melck at 29 minutes. A third successful penalty from Jackson at 34 minutes took the home side into the lead by just two points, but they did not get to enjoy it for long.

After Bath's Tom Cheeseman made a swift pass to Little who offloaded to Peter Short, who was captaining in Michael Claassen's absence, the pressure was on Saracens who now found themselves back inside their own 22. This possession was enough to force an offside and Little stepped up again to kick for three points at 36 minutes. At half-time Bath Rugby were in the lead with 15 points to 14.

With just one point between them, both teams returned to the pitch determined to be the victors and it was Saracens who managed to enjoy the first celebration of the second half. After just five minutes, Saracens' full back Michael Horak made a quick pass to winger Richard Haughton following an aggressive charge from the hosts towards Bath's territory. Haughton took full advantage of his pace and crashed over the line for their second and final try of the match. Jackson converted and with a further penalty awarded for a Bath offside offence just a few minutes later, Jackson put his boot into action again for another three points. As 50 minutes counted on the clock, Saracens were leading by 24 to 15.

Begrudging the score deficit, Bath made an aggressive display of their own and Little made a break into Saracens's 22 in a bid to regain some points. The ball was recycled well and after sustained pressure a brilliant offload from Ben Williams sent Faamatuainu over for his second try of the match and Bath's third, which took them to just two points behind after a successful conversion by Davis from the touchline.

However, Bath were unable to hang on to steal the victory and instead were on the wrong side of two offences which kicked Saracens into a 30-22 lead. Whilst some valiant attempts were made in the dying minutes, the penalty count was against them and the travelling team were forced to endure the final whistle on a defeat. But, the team will be heartened by the effort and determination displayed at Vicarage Road today and this confidence will set them in good stead when they face Ospreys, at home, next Saturday.

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