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- Aviva Premiership
- 28th Feb 2014
- KO 19:45
- Ground: The Recreation Ground
- Att: 12,100
Aviva Premiership: Saracens moved top with a heavy defeat of Bath
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Saracens all but ended Bath's ambitions of a top-two finish in the Aviva Premiership with a ruthless examination of the third-placed side's credentials.
Sarries were the last side to win a league match at the Recreation Ground - a similarly conclusive 22-0 victory in December 2012 - and the visitors seldom looked under pressure here in winning 23-10.
Flanker Jacques Burger was at his destructive best in the loose, until he was sin-binned for one illegal tackle too many, while Alex Goode stepped up at short notice to control the game at fly-half.
Goode landed two penalties, two conversions and a drop-goal in a near faultless performance after Charlie Hodgson pulled out during the warm-up, feeling unwell.
Bath had won 12 home matches and were unbeaten home or away in all competitions since the New Year - but starved of any useful possession for long periods, there was precious little time or space for their backs to shine.
After a frenetic opening, with both sides spreading the ball wide, Saracens conceded two penalties in quick succession but escaped punishment.
George Ford kicked a 19th minute goal from short range but the lead was short-lived as Bath conceded a line-out from the restart and when Paul James was penalised at the maul, Goode landed an equalising penalty.
Back came Bath and Peter Stringer thought he had scored from a quickly taken line-out by Matt Banahan but the TMO ruled the throw had been forward.
Saracens grabbed the first try on 31 minutes as Goode created an opening for Tomkins and Duncan Taylor to set Chris Wyles free on the left for a try which Goode converted.
Bath's poise again deserted them when they lost possession in the Saracens 22. Taylor hacked on, Ollie Devoto fumbled and Brad Barritt kicked across field for David Strettle to mark his 100th appearance with a simple try. Goode's conversion sent his side in at the break with a 17-3 lead.
Bath brought on a specialist openside in Guy Mercer for Alafoti Fa'osiliva in an effort to even up the breakdown contest but then lost Stringer to an illegal tackle on Burger.
Banahan was forced into touch at the corner but Bath lacked a cutting edge against the uncompromising Saracens defence and Goode stretched the lead to 20-3 with a drop-goal on 56 minutes.
After Burger was shown the yellow card in the 66th minute for a high tackle on Anthony Watson, Bath battled their way over the line but without convincing the officials Leroy Houston had managed to touch down.
Eventually however their scrum earned a 72nd minute penalty try and Ford chipped over the conversion.
Instead of then going back upfield in search of at least a losing bonus point, Bath conceded another penalty to Goode.
With two minutes remaining Wyles became the second Saracens player to see a yellow card for an illegal tackle when he barged replacement wing Semesa Rokoduguni into touch - but by then the match had been decided.
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Aviva Premiership Table
|Friday 5th September|
|19:45||Northampton vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 6th September|
|14:00||Sale vs Bath|
|14:00||Saracens vs Wasps|
|15:00||Leicester vs Newcastle|
|16:30||London Irish vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 7th September|
|14:00||London Welsh vs Exeter|
|Friday 12th September|
|19:45||Harlequins vs Saracens|
|Saturday 13th September|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Sale|
|15:00||Bath vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Exeter vs Leicester|
|Sunday 14th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Northampton|
|15:00||Newcastle vs London Irish|
|Friday 19th September|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Exeter|
|Saturday 20th September|
|14:00||Sale vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Saracens|
|15:15||Bath vs Leicester|
|Sunday 21st September|
|14:00||Newcastle vs Northampton|
|Friday 26th September|
|19:45||London Welsh vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 27th September|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Sale|
|15:15||Northampton vs Bath|
|Sunday 28th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Newcastle|
|14:00||Exeter vs Harlequins|
|Friday 3rd October|
|19:45||Bath vs Saracens|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com