Farrell clinches win over Bath as Saracens go second

Gallagher Premiership

Bath (0) 12

Tries: Du Toit, Redpath Cons: Spencer

Saracens (12) 15

Tries: Parton, Segun Pens: Farrell Cons: Farrell

Owen Farrell kicked a late penalty as Saracens laid down a major marker in the Premiership title race by beating Bath to move above them into second.

Tom Parton crossed first for Saracens in a highly physical match, before Rotimi Segun added a second try in an expertly managed first half from the visitors.

But the pendulum swung Bath’s way after the break as the hosts’ bench made an impact, with tries from replacements Thomas du Toit and Cameron Redpath levelling the score.

But Farrell's penalty with three minutes to go secured Saracens the win and pushed them above Bath in the table by a point.

Six-time champions Saracens know more than most how to see out a season and their tactics effectively stopped Bath getting any real grip during the opening 40 minutes.

The visitors used their kicking game to pressurise their opponents and it eventually paid off as a chip forward put Bath on the back foot. The ball eventually went out wide for Parton to dive over in the corner for his fourth try in two games.

The Premiership champions continued to neutralise Bath’s attack – with England head coach Steve Borthwick watching from he stands – as the hosts threw loose passes and stuttered at the line-out.

Elliot Daly thumped the ball downfield to put Saracens in an excellent attacking position, only for the television match official to flag a high tackle from Maro Itoje on Alfie Barbeary, with the England lock sent to the sin-bin.

With the numerical advantage Bath sensed an opening but Saracens managed the 10 minutes with 14 to perfection.

There was even a twist to end the half as winger Segun made a line break before collecting a kick from Farrell to make it 12-0.

Momentum continued Saracens’ way from the restart as Parton came within inches of a second try before being dragged down before the line.

But Bath coach Johann van Graan made two changes to the front row and got an instant reward as his side won a massive scrum and then a penalty to kick to the corner in what felt make or break.

The sold-out Rec came alive and after two more penalties the third push forward struck Bath gold and replacement prop Du Toit powered over for a remarkable 10th score of the campaign.

Five minutes later Bath drew level as their maul pushed forward again, with Redpath scoring minutes after coming on and Ben Spencer kicking the conversion.

But an opportunist kick from Theo Dan gave Saracens the advantage, forcing Redpath to chase back and carry the ball over the line to gift them a scrum five metres out.

Bath conceded a penalty and Farrell kicked the winning three points, giving Saracens the momentum with two games to play.

Bath head of rugby Johann van Graan said:

“That was as close to a Test match in the Premiership that you will get.

“We actually came out of this game stronger. Disappointed that we lost the game, congratulations to Saracens, that’s why they are the champions.

“It was a titanic battle and I shook Mark’s [McCall] hand afterwards and said you guys were better than us so no issues with that.

"For us, we came within one moment of beating them in a titanic game.

"We’ll take our one point and keep running our own race. I think we’re on 50 points and they are on 51 and Northampton 54. Who knows what might happen tomorrow and Sunday and in two or three weeks’ time.”

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said:

“It feels big because they’ve been fantastic all year, especially here at Bath, and we’re getting towards the end of the season now.

“Everybody understood the importance of the result but for us it was more about our performance today.

“We needed to re-find and rediscover some of the team energy, which has been a bit lacking in the last couple of weeks, and I thought the way we fought - we needed to have each other’s backs and fight for each other throughout the game which we did from start to finish, and I’m really proud of that.

“It was the way we defended our line when we had to in the last 10 minutes, for example, everybody queuing up to make tackles, and then when we do make a break there’s people there to make the important tackles 100 metres down the field.”

Bath: Gallagher; Cokanasiga, Lawrence, Ojomoh, Muir; Bailey, Spencer (c); Obano, Annett, Stuart, Roux, Ewels, Hill, Underhill, Barbeary.

Replacements: Dunn, Du Toit, Griffin, Du Plessis, Bayliss, Schreuder, Redpath, Coetzee.

Saracens: Daly; Segun, Cinti, Tompkins, Parton; Farrell (c), Davies; Mawi, George, Judge, Itoje, Isiekwe, Gonzalez, Earl, Willis.

Replacements: Dan, M Vunipola, Riccioni, Tizard, B Vunipola, Knight, Van Zyl, Goode.

Sin-bin: Maro Itoje (30 mins)

Referee: Luke Pearce