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Four first-half tries see Saracens beat Bath Rugby 31-17 to go four points clear at top of the Premiership
Three matches, three wins, 13 tries, 117 points.
Saracens are now only the second team in Premiership history to start a season with three consecutive bonus-point victories and this 31-17 demolition of Bath was arguably the easiest so far.
Bath, buoyed themselves by wins against Newcastle and Leicester, were expected to demonstrate their credentials for a place among the Premiership’s front-runners this season at Allianz Park. The reality was this game was over after 40 minutes.
Four tries before half-time, two from David Strettle and one each for Alex Goode and Matt Stevens, put the hosts 31-3 up before the break.
Semesa Rokudguni’s intercepted try reduced the deficit in the second period but it was irrelevant - Sarries had long cemented their place at the top of the Premiership table, four points clear of reigning champions Leicester.
The hosts started positively and were 3-0 up within the first three minutes through an Owen Farrell penalty. Bath though responded strongly, piling the pressure on the Sarries line and would have been disappointed to only come away with three points, Tom Heathcote slotting home from the tee.
The Men in Black’s resolute defence paid dividends because five minutes later it was the home side who crossed the line.
Mako Vunipola pounced on a loose ball at a line-out and with possession secured, quick ball through the backs saw Strettle take advantage of superior numbers to score the first try in the corner.
Farrell converted and after ten minutes Saracens led 10-3.
Heathcote missed a difficult opportunity from the tee soon after and in the 18th minute Sarries’ hefty forward line created a second score.
Bath failed to gather a high kick and as Chris Wyles reacted first, Mako Vunipola drove towards the line before younger brother Billy bundled through and as Bath’s defence creaked, Goode danced his way through from close range.
Farrell added the extras to put the Men in Black 20-3 ahead before the 20-minute mark.
Sarries were now well on top. Just after the half-hour mark Bath’s Rob Webber was yellow carded for killing the ball on the ground and moments later the hosts were in again.
With a maul set up just short of the line, Stevens saw a gap not round or behind but over the cluster of bodies as he picked up the ball and belly-flopped up, over and down on to the line.
Farrell kept his 100 per cent record intact with his third conversion and a match that promised to be tight looked to be turning into a rout as Saracens led 24-3 after just 34 minutes.
Bath looked a pale shadow of the team that won their first two games and Strettle came close to scoring his second but was unable to gather Chris Ashton’s clever kick through.
As the visitors longed for the half-time whistle, Sarries went for the jugular. The hosts went left then right then left again and as Bath panted their way across it was too late.
Richard Wigglesworth’s long pass found Ashton who quickly shifted to Strettle who raced through in the left corner to confirm the bonus-point before the teams had even swapped ends. Strettle’s score was his fourth of the season so far.
Bath started the second half with renewed impetus but seven minutes of pressure yielded no points as Saracens held firm.
Having weathered the storm and retaken control, Saracens handed Bath a lifeline as Goode’s attempted long pass was intercepted by Rokudguni and the visitors’ winger sprinted the length of the pitch to touch down and reduce the gap to 31-10.
Multiple changes from both sides killed the game’s rhythm in the latter stages of the second half. George Ford, on at half-time, gave added impetus to the question marks surrounding his non-selection, by making a brilliant break with five minutes to play but Ashton raced across to make an excellent tackle.
With four minutes to play, Bath scored again as Dave Attwood bulldozed his way over the line and Ford converted to make it 31-17.
The fact that the visitors had won the second half 14-0 and yet were still 14 points shy of their opponents only demonstrated the degree of Sarries’ dominance in the first half.
The Men in Black can expect a sterner test against Harlequins next week.
Saracens: 15. Alex Goode (Ransom, 67), 14. Chris Ashton, 13. Chris Wyles, 12. Duncan Taylor (Mordt, 69), 11. David Strettle, 10. Owen Farrell, 9. Richard Wigglesworth (De Kock, 57), 1. Mako Vunipola (Barrington, 66), 2. Schalk Brits (George, 57), 3. Matt Stevens (Johnston, 47), 4. Steve Borthwick (capt), (Hargreaves, 47) 5. George Kruis, 6. Billy Vunipola, 7. Jacques Burger (Brown, 50), 8. Ernst Joubert
Replacements: 16. Jamie George, 17. Rhys Gill, 18. James Johnston, 19. Alastair Hargreaves, 20. Kelly Brown, 21. Neil De Kock, 22. Nils Mordt, 23. Ben Ransom
Bath Rugby: 15. Anthony Watson, 14. Semesa Rokoduguni, 13. Matt Banahan, 12. Gavin Henson (Joseph, 52), 11. Tom Biggs, 10. Tom Heathcote (Ford, 40) 9. Martin Roberts (Young, 57), 1. Anthony Perenise, 2. Rob Webber, 3. David Wilson (Palma-Newport, 67), 4. Stuart Hooper (capt), 5. Dominic Day, 6. Alafoti Fa'osiliva, 7. Guy Mercer (Garvey, 40), 8. Leroy Houston
Replacements: 16. Tom Dunn, 17. Paul James, 18. Kane Palma-Newport, 19. Dave Attwood, 20. Matt Garvey, 21. Micky Young, 22. George Ford, 23. Jonathan Joseph
Referee: J P Doyle
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