Bath 12 – 15 Saracens

Saracens move second in the Gallagher Premiership table after a dramatic 15-12 victory over Bath; Owen Farrell’s 77th-minute penalty secured a late win at the Recreation Ground and moved them on the brink of the play-offs

Last Updated: 26/04/24 11:08pm

Tom Parton celebrates with team-mate Elliot Daly after Saracens claimed a dramatic victory

Tom Parton celebrates with team-mate Elliot Daly after Saracens claimed a dramatic victory

Reigning champions Saracens put one foot in the Gallagher Premiership play-offs after Owen Farrell’s late penalty sunk title rivals Bath 15-12 at the Recreation Ground.

Farrell’s 78th-minute strike meant that Saracens climbed above Bath into second place, three points behind leaders Northampton, following a performance that crackled with intensity.

But they had to withstand a fierce Bath fightback from 12 points adrift as tries either side of the hour-mark from replacements Thomas du Toit and Cameron Redpath, plus a Ben Spencer conversion, threatened a famous home win.

Saracens took charge through first-half tries by wings Tom Parton and Rotimi Segun, while Farrell kicked a conversion and match-winning penalty. The former England captain, who will join French club Racing 92 this summer, impressed throughout, combining an immaculate kicking game with astute tactical appreciation.

 Owen Farrell's late kick earned Saracens a valuable win

Owen Farrell’s late kick earned Saracens a valuable win

The end result was a priceless win on the road as Saracens chase a sixth Premiership crown in the last 10 seasons.

How Bath edged Friday thriller

Bath were eager to put pace and width on the ball, with centres Max Ojomoh and Ollie Lawrence prominent during promising early flurries, but Saracens struck first after 12 minutes.

Full-back Elliot Daly and centre Lucio Cinti worked their way in behind Bath’s defence, before Cinti’s midfield partner Nick Tompkins fired out a long pass and Parton finished comfortably. Farrell missed the touchline conversion attempt, but Saracens were off and running in front of England head coach Steve Borthwick.

Saracens' Tom Parton scores his side's first try of the game during the Gallagher Premiership match at The Recreation Ground, Bath

Saracens’ Tom Parton scores his side’s first try of the game during the Gallagher Premiership match at The Recreation Ground, Bath

Kicking dominated the contest, with Saracens content to play a tight game that revolved around major ball-carriers Ben Earl and Juan Martin Gonzalez, and Bath found it hard going breaking down such impressive organisation.

Things ramped up a gear 10 minutes before half-time when Saracens’ England lock Maro Itoje made head to head contact with Bath number eight Alfie Barbeary. Referee Luke Pearce consulted with television match official David Rose before brandishing a yellow card, although it could conceivably have been considerably worse for Itoje.

Saracens made progress approaching the interval when prop Eroni Mawi’s pass sent No 8 Tom Willis clear, and it took an outstanding tackle by Will Muir on Gonzalez to prevent a try. Bath’s defence was then unlocked courtesy of a well-placed Farrell kick, and Segun touched down in the corner before Farrell’s conversion opened up a 12-0 lead.

Saracens had the bit between their teeth, and Earl’s pass to Parton split Bath’s defence on halfway before Joe Cokanasiga managed to stop any further try-scoring threat.

It took Bath 56 minutes to establish any kind of threat inside Saracens’ 22, yet they made it count after two driven lineouts in quick succession ended with Du Toit crashing over close range.

Bath were at it again six minutes later, inflicting more pain on Saracens’ defence as another relentless driving maul this time delivered a try for Redpath, with Spencer’s conversion levelling things up early in the final quarter.

But some opportunism from Farrell inside his own 22 set up a thrilling Saracens counter-attack and created a scrum platform only five metres from Bath’s line. And Bath could not hold out, conceding a penalty that Farrell duly landed from in front of the posts.

Farrell hails “tremendous” victory

Owen Farrell, speaking to TNT Sports: “It is a tough old place to come. It always has been, but especially this
year. They are a top, top side. For us to come here and stick in the fight like we did after a couple of tough results we’ve had of late was tremendous.

“We’ve gone back to being a little bit more ourselves today. We felt more comfortable. By no means was that perfect. There were loads of mistakes, but we fought for each other and we enjoyed doing it.”

What’s next?

Leicester Tigers host fourth-place Bristol on Saturday (3pm), while Harlequins face Northampton Saints at the Twickenham Stoop (3.05pm). Struggling Gloucester are at home to Exeter Chiefs on Sunday (3pm), while rock-bottom Newcastle Falcons welcome Sale to Kingston Park (3pm).

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