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BBC Sport's Alastair Hignell
reports from Vicarage Road
 real 14k

Saracens chief executive Francois Pienaar
"We leaked two easy tries in the first 20 minutes"
 real 14k

Saturday, 30 December, 2000, 18:30 GMT
Bath freeze out Sarries
Catt wreaked havoc with his incisive running
Catt wreaked havoc with his incisive running
Saracens 11-31 Bath

Saracens' title hopes were blown away by a red-hot Bath in icy conditions at Vicarage Road.

England centre Mike Tindall pocketed two tries and the West Country side claimed two more as the home side froze under pressure.

Saracens could only add three second-half points as they lost Australian Test centre Tim Horan and England Test flanker Richard Hill before the break.

Iain Balshaw and hooker Andy Long added tries in the second half to see Bath comfortably home.

  Scoreboard
Saracens 11 Tries: Hill. Pens: Sorrell 2.
Bath 31 Tries: Tindall 2, Balshaw, Long. Cons: Perry 4. Pens: Perry.
Balshaw delivered the killer blow with a smartly-worked 67th-minute touchdown before Long grabbed an injury time interception try to earn Bath a bonus point.

Full-back Matt Perry landed all four conversions and kicked a penalty.

Bath's backs, with fly-half Mike Catt causing mayhem through his incisive running, were comfortably a class above their Saracens counterparts.

Cold experts

Bath are now level with Saracens on 40 points, still 10 behind league leaders and Premiership champions-elect Leicester.

The snow-covered pitch was aonly given the all-clear 50 minutes before kick-off.

Bath displayed a far healthier appetite for the tricky conditions than their hosts and went ahead in the third minute.

Tindall blasted through Horan's attempted tackle and the Australian required treatment before eventually leaving the field in groggy fashion midway through the first half.


This was a special result for us - the players did fantastically well in difficult conditions
  Jon Callard, Bath coach
Tindall added a second touch down on 13 minutes and Saracens' afternoon was finished when Hill limped off just after scoring the home side's solitary try.

Bath led 14-8 at the break and ran away with the match in the second half.

Coach Jon Callard hailed the superb effort of his players in trying conditions.

"This was a special result for us - the players did fantastically well in difficult conditions," said Callard.

Saracens director of rugby Alan Zondagh said: "Bath stopped us scoring - even though they scored some fantastic tries, their defence won the game for them."


Saracens: Sparg, Shanklin, Horan, Sorrell, Luger, Walshe, Bracken, Flatman, Russell, Wallace, Roche, Murray, Chesney, Hill, Diprose. Replacements: Cairns, White, Cheesebrough, Hooper, Haughton, Johnston, Iwabuchi.

Bath: Perry, Balshaw, Maggs, Tindall, Thirlby, Catt, Cooper, Emms, Long, Mallett, Haag, Borthwick, G. Thomas, Clarke, Lyle. Replacements: Preston, Regan, Barnes, Voyce, Berne, N. Thomas, Lloyd.

Referee: John Barnard (RFU)

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See also:

30 Dec 00 |  Rugby Union
Wasps sting sorry Saints
26 Dec 00 |  Rugby Union
Callard rants as Bath sink
27 Dec 00 |  Rugby Union
Pienaar concedes title to Tigers
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