Bath Rugby hung out to dry as Saracens run riot at rain-soaked Rec
Match report: BATH RUGBY 0 SARACENS 22
By Harry Abbott
Charlie Hodgson produced a sublime performance at a rain-soaked Rec as Bath Rugby crashed to their heaviest defeat of the season against Saracens.
The visitors coped by far the better with the atrocious conditions, with the imperious Hodgson kicking 17 points to send the home side crashing back to earth with a bump following back-to-back Amlin Cup wins over Italian side Calvisano.
Limited Deal. All day wedding photography only £545.00View details
All day wedding photography only £545.00
From Bridal preparations to first dance.
250+ Hi Res images on disc with full printing rights.
Professional photography at affordable prices.
Free no obligation consultations.
Offer subject to availability.
Book before 31st May 2013.
Available in Bath, Bristol and surrounding areas.
Contact: 01225 439257
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Head coach Gary Gold will be bitterly disappointed at how little his side offered during the match, with Bath's chances all but gone before half-time.
Both teams took time to settle in the face of the torrential rain but once Hodgson had his first sight of goal, it was all one-way traffic. The Sarries fly-half saw a drop-goal attempt from 30 metres drift wide but his long-range penalty three minutes later put the visitors ahead.
Hodgson was also crucial when the game's first try arrived midway through the half, with the England international slipping Michael Claassens' tackle on the Bath 22. He then fed David Strettle, who raced to the line before offloading to Richard Wigglesworth to complete the score.
Again Hodgson's boot was imperious, as he expertly landed the conversion from the left-hand touchline, before backing it up with another penalty soon after.
The same could not be said for Bath counterpart Stephen Donald, with the conditions getting the better of the New Zealand World Cup winner as he missed three kicks at goal in the space of five minutes.
Hodgson, however, continued in faultless fashion, scoring his third penalty before the break, while Chris Wyles was denied a second Saracens touchdown.
The visiting full-back raced onto Owen Farrell's neat grubber kick but there was just too much pace on the ball as Wyles and the backtracking Nick Abendanon and Horacio Agulla all clattered into the advertising boards.
The hosts took until two minutes before half-time to muster their first meaningful attack, with Tom Biggs looking to capitalise when Joel Tomkins fumbled Donald's high kick. The Bath winger pounced, punted and chased but the ball rolled just too far.
The chance seemed somewhat of an inspiration to the home side and they had 20 minutes of sustained pressure in the second period but, frustratingly, it came without reward.
Saracens gave away repeated penalties on their own line in the face of heavy Bath pressure but, in their desperate search for points, the hosts opted for scrums and lineouts before being the architects of their own downfall when they infringed themselves.
Such was Hodgson's control over the game that, when the visitors got themselves into Bath's 22 for the first time in the half on the stroke of the hour, the fly-half extended the lead with another penalty.
Two off-target kicks late on proved that even he was fallible in the pouring rain but he did have the final say when a fifth penalty five minutes from time brought an end to the scoring as the festive season offered little cheer for The Rec faithful.
Following defeat at Leicester Tigers in their last Premiership outing, Gold's side are now in danger of dropping out of contention for a top-four spot before the New Year arrives.
And should they fail to turn their fortunes around at Exeter next Saturday – as well as during the trip to Wasps a week later – they will have a fight on their hands just to reclaim a place in the top six.
BATH RUGBY: Abendanon, Agulla, Eastmond, Williams (Hipkiss 60), Biggs, Donald, Claassens, James (Perenise 77), Mears (Dunn 65), Wilson (Beech 77), Hooper, Day (Attwood 60), Louw, Mercer, Taylor. Replacements not used: Skuse, McMillan, Heathcote.
SARACENS: Wyles, Ashton (Short 65), Tomkins, Farrell, Strettle (Taylor 71), Hodgson, Wigglesworth (de Kock 50), Vunipola (Gill 50), Brits (George 65), Stevens (du Plessis 18), Borthwick (Sheriff 73), Botha, Kruis, Fraser (Saull 60), Brown.
Try: Wigglesworth Conversion: Hodgson Penalties: Hodgson 5
Referee: Greg Garner