Aviva Premiership: Bath 31 Saracens 21
PUBLISHED: 17:39 09 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:39 09 September 2017
PA Wire/PA Images
Two tries in the last three minutes by right wing Semesa Rokoduguni snatched a remarkable 31-21 victory for Bath against Saracens - just when it seemed they had thrown it away.
Sarries had trailed 14-0 at half-time of the Aviva Premiership encounter but showed their champion pedigree by mounting a strong second-half comeback in front of a packed Recreation Ground.
When replacement wing Ben Spencer crossed in the 73rd minute to put the European champions 22-21 ahead for the first time in the game, Bath looked as if they would have only a losing bonus point to show for their efforts.
But Rokoduguni danced past three defenders on a 35-metre dash to the line to claw back the lead. Then, as the Bath defence scrambled desperately with the clock at zero, the Fijian-born wing intercepted to run the length of the field. Freddie Burns converted both tries.
The hosts had battled their way into a 14-0 lead at half-time with a try by South Africa flanker Francois Louw and a drop goal and two penalties from Rhys Priestland, despite having lost scrum-half Chris Cook to concussion in the opening minutes.
With hooker Schalk Brits having an off-day after his hat-trick at Twickenham last week, Saracens’ offloading game was misfiring in the face of Bath’s own version of the ‘wolf pack’.
When Louw handed off Michael Rhodes and Alex Goode to finish off a flowing move in the corner, Bath really had their tails up.
Priestland could not convert but Alex Lozowski pushed a simple penalty chance wide at the other end before Bath’s Welsh fly-half made it 11-0 on the half-hour.
A crucial turnover by Louw on Lozowski just metres from the Bath line earned a relieving penalty and Priestland rounded off an impressive first half with a third penalty.
Saracens’ comeback began with a Lozowski penalty and another from Owen Farrell, brought off the bench with fellow British & Irish Lion Mako Vunipola to boost their firepower.
A Farrell penalty then made it 14-6 on 50 minutes before Priestland’s drop goal quickly restored Bath’s lead, but Saracens had gone up at least two gears.
A line-out catch-and-drive not only earned a penalty try award from referee Wayne Barnes just short of the hour but he also sent Taulupe Faletau to the sin-bin.
Farrell added another penalty to cut Bath’s lead to one score before the late flurry of scoring saw the hosts claim victory.
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