Aviva Premiership: Saracens stay top with easy Bath victory
Last Updated: 22/09/13 6:31pm
Saracens maintained their perfect start to the new Aviva Premiership season with an easy 31-17 victory over Bath on Sunday.
The game was all-but over at half-time as Sarries ran up a 31-3 lead on their way to their third successive five-point haul in three matches.
David Strettle crossed twice and there were also tries for Alex Goode - making his comeback from shoulder surgery - and Matt Stevens with Owen Farrell kicking all four conversions and a penalty as Bath's triumphant opening to the Premiership was blown apart.
Mako and Billy Vunipola made noteworthy contributions once more and England head coach Stuart Lancaster will also have been pleased by Chris Ashton's performance.
The London club's offer to refund tickets if their former centre Gavin Henson, starting in Bath's midfield, scored a point went unfilled with the former Wales back unable to make an impression.
Bath arrived at Allianz Park with wins against Newcastle and Leicester in the bank. Their tries were supplied by Semesa Rokoduguni and Dave Attwood and despite a vastly-improved second half, it was a desperate afternoon from a club hopeful of breaking into the top four
Remarkably for a side that was previously unbeaten, Bath found themselves in dire straights within the first quarter. The ball-carrying of Mako Vunipola was influential and it was a steal by the England loosehead at a 10th minute line-out that led to the opening try for Strettle.
Nine minutes later Goode had doubled the try-tally when an up and under by Farrell was snatched by Saracens from under the noses of Bath's Anthony Watson and Tom Biggs.
It was becoming embarrassing for Bath as Stevens hurled himself through the middle of the breakdown - there was a complete absence of white shirts - from close range to post the third try.
The visitors were down to 14 men by this point, hooker Rob Webber having been sent to the sin bin for killing the ball, and with Farrell landing every shot at goal it was looking like a long afternoon.
First-half injury time arrived and Ashton was denied a try only by a cruel bounce of the ball, but he helped keep the move alive and Strettle crossed to post the bonus point by half-time.
Bath finally offered some resistance in the third quarter and just as Saracens appeared to have weathered their storm, Rokoduguni leapt on a poor pass by Goode to run in an intercept try converted by substitute Ford.
Ashton executed a try-saving tackle on Ford with five minutes remaining, but Saracens could not prevent substitute Dave Attwood from burrowing over late on.
Aviva Premiership 2013/14 Round Three
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall called Chris Ashton "exceptional" after the winger helped blow away Bath 31-17.
Paul Burke paid tribute to Manu Tuilagi after the Lions star helped lift the Tigers to the top of the Premiership.
Northampton boss Jim Mallinder thought two late refereeing decisions cost his side in their dramatic loss at Gloucester.
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