Saracens made it eight wins in a row in the Premiership as they claimed an impressive 25-10 victory over Bristol Bears on Saturday.
England international Max Malins scored their only try, which Alex Goode converted before kicking six penalties at Ashton Gate.
Replacements Harry Thacker and Jonathan Benz Solomon both scored for the Bears as they crashed to a fifth successive league loss.
Bristol entered the field to an impressive display of fireworks but this was not repeated in the opening quarter as both sides were content to hoist the ball skywards in the difficult conditions.
Bristol had slightly better of the opening exchanges with both their new wings making an early impression. Debutant, Gabriel Ibitoye made a couple of lively runs while Deago Bailey pulled off an excellent tackle on Malins, who will return to Bristol at the end of the season.
Neither side remotely threatened the try-line in a pedestrian and scoreless first 20 minutes with few points of note to interest an enthusiastic crowd.
A couple of cross-field kicks from Bears’ fly-half Callum Sheedy were at least inventive but they failed to produce any dividends.
Saracens had the first real opportunity for points after 24 minutes but they turned down a 20-metre kick straight in front of the posts in favour of more attacking options and it proved the wrong call as the home defence held firm to repel a couple of driving line-outs.
On his 340th appearance for the club, Saracens fly-half Goode tried something creative by chipping over the top but the ball bounced unfavourably as the action continued to take place between the 22s.
The first score came after 33 minutes thanks to the improvisation of Malins, who received another Bristol kick before chipping ahead. The full-back was first to the ball to propel it forward again and collect before holding off the cover defence to score.
Goode converted and then added two penalties in quick succession to leave Saracens with a 13-0 interval lead.
After the restart, Goode kicked two more penalties to leave Bristol with a mountain to climb but the hosts at last showed something in attack when replacement Thacker finished off a driving line-out.
Sheedy missed the conversion before Goode was on target with another two penalties to seal victory.
Bristol had the final say when Ben-Solomon crashed over for a consolation try with two minutes left on the clock but it was too late to salvage the game.
Sale continued their impressive start to the Premiership season with a comfortable 27-17 win over Gloucester at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Joe Carpenter, Tommy Taylor and Ben Curry all crossed for the hosts in a first-half blitz that left the Cherry and Whites with a mountain to climb in Manchester.
Santiago Socino, Jake Morris and Freddie Clarke did hit back for the visitors but Alex Sanderson’s high-flying side, bolstered by 12 points from the boot of Rob du Preez, held on for their sixth win of the season.
The result helped Sale keep up the heat on unbeaten Saracens at the summit of the table, while Gloucester were unable to respond to Northampton’s Friday night triumph over Exeter and now lie outside the top four.
Elsewhere, Bath made it back-to-back league wins with a 17-10 victory over Newcastle in the 250th Premiership match to be held at Kingston Park.
Adam Radwan gave the home side the perfect start inside seven minutes, but they were pegged back by Ted Hill on his first start for Bath since his move from financially stricken Worcester.
Billy Searle came off the bench in the second half and made an instant impression, winning and converting a penalty, before Ollie Lawrence extended the lead with a try following a fine low kick from Max Ojomoh.
A Brett Connon penalty brought a consolation bonus point for the hosts, but the win was the Somerset side’s third in a row at Kingston Park.