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Merciless Saracens end Bath resurgence in brutal fashion

By PA
Billy Vunipola of Saracens is tackled by Nathan Hughes of Bath (Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

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Clinical Saracens halted Bath’s resurgence as a thumping 40-3 win kept them within striking distance of Premiership Rugby leaders Leicester Tigers.

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Sarries hooker Tom Woolstencroft went over from two almost identical driving mauls in quick succession at the end of the first half to give the hosts an 18-3 lead at the interval.

Alex Goode created and finished Saracens’ third of the afternoon, before he turned provider for Alex Lewington, who dotted down for the bonus point.

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Theo McFarland then bulldozed over from close range to complete a thoroughly professional showing from Joe Shaw’s second-placed side, who are now seven points behind the Tigers.

Both teams struggled for fluency on a cold afternoon in north London and despite the home pack enjoying early scrum superiority, they only had two Alex Lozowski penalties to show for their efforts at the game’s quarter mark.

Buoyed by recent wins over Worcester Warriors and Harlequins following a dire start to the campaign, Bath gradually settled, with a period of concerted pressure on the Saracens try-line showcasing their desire to play a tighter game.

In fact, it was only down to a shuddering hit from Sean Maitland – on his 100th Saracens appearance – that they did not register the game’s opening try, with Mike Williams unceremoniously bumped into touch.

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Nathan Hughes was adjudged to have been held up over the line by referee Sara Cox just a minute later, but they would get their reward shortly afterwards, with former Saracens star Ben Spencer reducing the arrears to 6-3 with a straightforward penalty.

But that was as good as it got for the men from the Rec.

Shortly after losing Jonathan Joseph to a head injury, Saracens upped the ante. Woolstencroft and Andy Christie were punching holes in the Bath defence and in the space of four minutes right at the close of the half, they turned promise into points.

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Turning down straightforward shots at goal, Manu Vunipola nudged the ball into touch in favour of the lineout option and Woolstencroft was carried over, twice, with help from the TMO for the opener.

Fuelled by a 15-point lead, Saracens were noticeably more relaxed from the get-go at the resumption, Lozowski bolstering their lead to 21-3 to put the result beyond doubt.

Ex-England full-back Goode proceeded to add a marvellous third for his side. Going straight down the middle of the pitch and through a soft Jacques Du Toit tackle, he combined neatly with Ben Earl before switching inside Cameron Redpath to go over.

Saracens did not have to wait long for the bonus-point try, Goode’s looped pass sending Lewington in down the touchline via an acrobatic finish before McFarland had the final word – smashing over from 10 metres out after picking up from the bottom of a ruck.

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