Saracens 53-10 Bath: Sarries run in eight tries past Bath
Last Updated: 26/03/17 5:57pm
Saracens responded to the return of their England contingent from Six Nations duty by crushing title rivals Bath in an ominous 53-10 Aviva Premiership victory.
Owen Farrell, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola were in action at Allianz Park where the double winners had the bonus point sealed with a quarter to spare.
For all the presence of their Six Nations champions, Saracens' stalwarts also made telling impacts on a win registered in blustery conditions that leaves them only one point adrift of second-placed Exeter.
Alex Goode, who had recovered from an ankle problem to make his first appearance since early January, finished a contender for try of the season and man of the match Brad Barritt also touched down before trooping off.
George, Sean Maitland, Schalk Brits, Chris Ashton and Billy Vunipola also pierced a crumbling defence, Ashton crossing twice and Vunipola overcoming a slow start to finish as the dominant force on the pitch.
The eight-try rout was a statement of intent from Saracens, who utterly dominated the second half and ran riot during the final half hour.
Bath's defence disintegrated, beckoning the big home runners into large gaps on a chastening afternoon for the west country club, and the defeat has damaged their chances of finishing in the play-offs.
George defied the blustery conditions to send a pinpoint throw to Itoje at the rear of an early lineout and the England hooker's reward for his accuracy was the try from the resulting push over.
George Ford endured a disappointing start as he missed one penalty - albeit from long range - and then sent a touchfinder out on the full.
And the Bath fly-half also provided the launchpad for Saracens to run in a superb try with a 21-phase move that started from inside their own 22.
Richard Wigglesworth marked Ford's poor kick and spying an opportunity, the half-back launched the counter-attack via Goode before expertly combining with Ashton to open up the visitors' ranks.
The chance was fading as Bath scrambled, but opportunistic work on the left wing from Goode yielded the touch down for the full-back.
Saracens led 12-3 but their whitewash was breached brilliantly in the 26th minute with Toby Faletau producing the magic, stepping sideways and slipping an offload to Jonathan Joseph, who teed up Anthony Watson to score on a strong line.
The first half was drifting to a conclusion until the champions burst into life with seconds remaining, Maitland grubbering ahead at close quarters before gathering his kick and touching down to complete a spectacular finish.
Farrell launched the second half with a penalty that pushed Saracens 20-10 ahead and Bath were in danger of being over-run.
Vunipola was prominent with several robust carries and the dominant spell ended with replacement hooker Brits being driven over from an attacking line-out to post the bonus point.
Three minutes later and Barritt fell over the whitewash as Saracens created a succession of openings and Bath cracked once more when Ashton dived across in the right corner, capitalising on the vision of Brits.
However, the trauma was not over yet, as Vunipola and Ashton plundered easy late tries.