Saracens produce final hurrah to leave Bath sweating on play-off qualification

Just when it seemed Saracens had fired their last shot as a Premiership club, they stood up and blew a hole in Bath’s play-off hopes.

On an emotional final day in English rugby’s top flight, the fallen champions looked to be bowing out with a whimper.

But typical of a club which won five Premiership titles and three European Cups, albeit helped by breaching the salary cap, they were far from finished.

With 16 minutes left and Bath play-off bound with a 17-3 lead, the Londoners roused themselves for one last push.

Maro Itoje, Billy Vunipola and the rest of the forwards powered over to force for a penalty try – then Itoje pounced on a Bath lineout blunder for Tim Swinson to score and Manu Vunipola to kick the game tying conversion.

Team boss Mark McCall said: “That was a real proper Saracens performance, one we are very proud of.

“Backs to the wall, needing to show some fight, we rolled our sleeves up and you saw all the characteristics and qualities you’d expect.

“The last 10 months and what we’ve been through would have torn other clubs apart; it could have torn us apart. But we have stayed strong and as connected as we’ve ever been.”

Instead it was Bath left to rue blowing a golden chance to confirm a play-off place for the first time in five years.

They had started so brightly, as befits a team which had won seven games out of eight since lockdown.

Despite never having triumphed at Allianz Park, they helped themselves to two tries in the first quarter through Beno Obano and former Saracens star Ben Spencer.

When Rhys Priestland kicked a penalty shortly after half time it seemed they had put themselves out of reach of Covid-hit fifth placed club Sale, who controversially have been given leave to delay their final game play until Wednesday.

But that was to underestimate the pride of Saracens and at the final whistle director of rugby Stuart Hooper admitted they had “lost control” of their own destiny.

With a three-point lead over Sale, they now need Worcester to do them a favour at the AJ Bell. That, or for Premiership Rugby to shut down Sale’s season.

“We had an opportunity but it's out of our hands now,” he sighed.

SARACENS – Tries: Penalty try, Swinson. Con: M Vunipola. Pen: M Vunipola.

BATH – Tries: Obano, Spencer. Cons: Priestland 2. Pen: Priestland.

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