Priestland boot too much for ill-disciplined Saracens
PREMIERSHIP REPORT: Rhys Priestland kicked six penalties as Bath kept their play-off hopes alive with an 18-9 win over Saracens at the Recreation Ground on Friday.
Saracens conceded 20-odd penalties as they slumped to their fourth-successive away loss in testing conditions in Bath.
And Sarries’ South African flank Mike Rhodes may well have a visit to the disciplinary committee for an act of violence late in the first half.
It was Bath’s third consecutive home win against Saracens and arrested a two-match losing run.
In a try-less encounter, it came to down to accuracy off the tee and Priestland was almost flawless in the wind and rain while opposite number Alex Lozowski struggled.
Bath now climb back into the top half of the Premiership table, while victory for Exeter Chiefs at Worcester Warriors on Saturday would see them extend their lead over Saracens at the top.
Priestland needed just four minutes to make his mark as he got the scoreboard ticking over with his first penalty after a failed penalty advantage.
Lozowski hit back with a score of his own after opting against kicking for the corner to bring the champions level, but his accuracy would later prove to be his undoing.
Saracens conceded 20-odd penalties throughout the match and Priestland made them pay with two more kicks before the break.
Lozowski pulled Saracens level with two more of his own and the champions seized on Bath’s uncertainty by taking control of territory and possession.
But Bath’s defence, bolstered by the return of prop Beno Obano after nearly a year injured, remained steady, winning turnover after turnover and dominating the scrum.
Priestland put them three ahead with a penalty following a yellow card for Ben Earl before Lozowski missed one of his own.
And two more penalties secured a massive win to consign Saracens to their fourth defeat of the campaign.
Pens: Priestland 6
Pens: Lozowski 3
Yellow cards: Ben Earl (Saracens, 60), Ross Batty (Bath, 70)
Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Jack Wilson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Ruaridh McConnochie, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Will Chudley (captain), 8 Zach Mercer, 7 Miles Reid, 6 Elliott Stooke, 5 Levi Douglas, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Tom Dunn, 1 Nathan Catt.
Replacements: 16 Ross Batty, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Anthony Perenise, 19 Jack Davies, 20 Tom Ellis, 21 Kahn Fotuali’i, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Max Clark.
Saracens: 15 Max Malins, 14 David Strettle, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Alex Lozowski, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Alex Goode (co-captain), 9 Ben Spencer, 8 Jackson Wray (co-captain), 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Mike Rhodes, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Tom Woolstencroft, 1 Richard Barrington.
Replacements: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Dom Day, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Tom Whiteley, 22 Marcelo Bosch, 23 Matt Gallagher.
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant referees: Jack Makepeace, Jonathan Healy
TMO: Geoffrey Warren