Planet Rugby

Saracens close gap on leaders

08th January 2012 16:55

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John Smit Stephen Donald Francois Louw Saracens v Bath

Heavy traffic: John Smit takes on Stephen Donald and Francois Louw

Saracens beat Bath 26-19 with another ruthlessly efficient display at Vicarage Road on Sunday to close the gap on Aviva Premiership leaders Harlequins to just three points.

The visitors raced into an early lead after just six minutes as World Cup-winning fly-half Stephen Donald justified some of the money and faith invested in him by scoring his first Premiership try.

Sarries have a formidable home record though and are yet to lose at Vicarage Road this season. And they showed exactly why they are so difficult to beat on their home turf when, despite being down to fourteen men after prop Rhys Gill was sinbinned, captain Steve Borthwick dived over for a try against his former club.

Donald registered three points for Bath before the home side were back up to their full complement but the lead did not last long.

England hopeful Owen Farrell recovered from two missed penalties to succeed with two further attempts, giving his team a 13-10 half-time advantage.

The West Country outfit's cause was not helped moments into the second period when star fly-half Donald had to be replaced by Tom Heathcote after picking up a shoulder injury.

Heathcote more than played his part as the half wore on though and he exchanged penalties with Farrell before the Saracens number ten missed another two penalties, which could have given his side some breathing space.

Bath remained in contention until ten minutes from time when Sarries' left winger Chris Wyles stepped inside his opposite number and crossed to give the Londoners a ten point lead.

Heathcote and Farrell then slotted over a penalty apiece shortly afterwards before Heathcote stepped up once more with the last kick of the match to draw Bath within seven points at 26-19 and give the visitors the consolation of a losing bonus point.

The scorers:

For Saracens:
Tries: Borthwick, Wyles
Cons: Farrell 2
Pens: Farrell 4

For Bath:
Try: Donald
Con: Donald


Pens: Donald, Heathcote 3

Yellow card: Gill (Saracens -15th min)

Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 David Strettle, 13 Owen Farrell, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Andy Saull, 6 Jackson Wray, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 John Smit, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Petrus du Plessis, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 George Kruis, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Adam Powell, 23 James Short.

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Francois Louw (c), 6 Andy Beattie, 5 Ryan Caldwell, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Ross Batty. 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 David Wilson, 19 Ben Skirving, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Tom Heathcote, 23 Kyle Eastmond.

Venue: Vicarage Road
Referee: Pascal Gauzere

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PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
4Bath1959
5Harlequins1954