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Page last updated at 20:38 GMT, Sunday, 4 May 2008 21:38 UK

Bath 66-21 Saracens

Bath (45) 66
Tries: Browne, Barkley 2, Lipman 2, Maddock, James, Banahan, Higgins Cons: Barkley 9 Pens: Barkley

Saracens (0) 21
Tries: Powell, Yates, Ratuvou Cons: Jackson 3

By James Standley

Matt Banahan of Bath races away to score a try
Matt Banahan was among the try scorers for Bath

Bath powered to the top of the table and clinched a play-off spot into the bargain as they destroyed Saracens.

Tries from Daniel Browne, Olly Barkley, Michael Lipman, Joe Maddock, Butch James and Matt Banahan gave them a 45-0 half-time lead at The Rec.

Sarries managed to get on the board through Adam Powell and Kevin Yates.

But Lipman, Barkley, who kicked 21 points, and Andrew Higgins added further Bath tries, with Kameli Ratuvou scoring a consolation for Saracens.

With their Heineken Cup bid having come to an end with a brave defeat against Munster in the semi-finals last weekend, Saracens' season was effectively over.

Bath, on the other hand, are chasing a top-two slot to give them a home tie in the Premiership play-offs.

But even though they were always going to be the more motivated outfit, nobody could have predicted they would rip Saracens apart quite so ruthlessly in the opening 40 minutes.

They took the lead through an early Barkley penalty and their superb off-loading game soon had Saracens chasing shadows.

Their first try came from a scrum on halfway. Fly-half James scissored with the flying Maddock, and after the wing burst through the midfield he fed the supporting Lipman.


The pass from the open-side, who was omnipresent in the opening stages, to Nick Abendanon was forward but they had attacked so swiftly the referee was too far behind to call it and the full-back set up Browne to thunder over from the 22.

Just over five minutes later Barkley cruised over for the hosts' second score, slicing between two forwards on the 22, and the Gloucester-bound centre added both conversions to give Bath a 17-0 lead with over an hour still to play.

The hosts were playing champagne rugby and hooker Lee Mears decided to join the party.

First he bullocked his way up the middle to set up a try for Lipman, and then the England front rower's kick set up the position for Maddock to cross out wide.

Lee Mears passes out of the tackle to set up Michael Lipman's first try
Skilful hooker Lee Mears typified Bath's adventurous approach
By now Bath were running it from everywhere and they added two more tries before the break.

James dotted down Barkley's pin-point grubber kick before Banahan powered 90m after Sarries spilled possession deep in the hosts' 22.

Barkley added all four conversions and the one sour note for Bath was scrum-half Michael Claassens's sin-binning for cynically killing the ball at a ruck right on the hosts' tryline.

Powell intercepted to finally get Saracens on the board nine minutes after the interval and they added a second score soon after when Yates powered over against his former club, with Glen Jackson converting both.

Bath lost a second South African half-back to the bin when James was yellow carded for a reckless tackle but they finished the match, as they had started it, well on top.

Lipman and Barkley both crossed and although Ratuvou powered over for Saracens the final word went to the hosts.

Replacement Higgins got his name on the scoresheet and Barkley continued his impeccable kicking display by landing all three conversions as the West country side confirmed they are serious contenders for the Premiership title.

Bath head coach Steve Meehan:

"It is very difficult to come out with the same sort of intensity in the second half when you are 45-0 up.

"When I was assistant coach at Stade Francais, Nick Mallett used to say you could tell how motivated a side were by their defence.

"We wanted to test Saracens in defence, and this was always going to be a really big ask for them after their European semi-final just six days ago."

Saracens boss Alan Gaffney:

"It is going to take a very good defensive side to hold Bath out.

"You have got to slow down their offload game - Bath are the best team in the Premiership at offloading in the tackle - although Wasps could possibly do that.

"But there is no doubt Bath are going to be in there with a shout. In my coaching career, I don't think I've ever had 66 points scored against me."

Bath: Abendanon; Maddock, Crockett, Barkley, Banahan; James, Claassens; Barnes, Mears, Stevens, Borthwick, Grewcock, Faamatuainu, Lipman, Browne.
Replacements: Dixon, Bell, Short, Feau'nati, Walshe, Berne, Higgins.

Saracens: Scarbrough; Leonelli, Sorrell, Powell, Ratuvou; Jackson, Rauluni; Yates, Ongaro, Johnson, Ryder, Fullarton, Chesney, Barrell, Gustard.
Replacements: Cairns, Mercey, Saull, Seymour, Dickens, Ross, Penney.

Referee: R Debney (RFU)

see also
Munster loss taught us - De Kock
29 Apr 08 |  Saracens
Saracens 16-18 Munster
27 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Saracens 29-40 Wasps
20 Apr 08 |  English
Bath 36-14 Sale Sharks
26 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union

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