Saracens crowned champions of England

2015-05-30 20:13
Owen Farrell (File)

London - Owen Farrell came out on top in his personal battle for No 10 supremacy with England rival George Ford to engineer Saracens second English Premiership title success on Saturday.

Farrell amassed 18 points including a fine opening try as Mark McCall's men overcame a Bath side which fought back strongly in the second half but came up short at Twickenham.

"We have worked hard for this success and it feels great," said Farrell, after his side's 28-16 win.

"We played well and built a lead in the first half but knew they would come at us and throw everything at us in the second half. They did that but we managed to hold out."

Saracens centre Brad Barritt added: "When we play as we did in the first half we can be unstoppable.

"This is a magnificent achievement and we will enjoy celebrating it. The game went as we wanted it to."

Victory for Sarries, in their fourth English Final in six years, helped them exorcise the mental demons of last year's double Final defeat by Northampton and Toulon. But it was a tough defeat for a Bath side playing in their first English Premiership Final for 11 years.

Jamie George and Chris Wyles also crossed for Sarries, who finished fourth in the table, with Bath's only try coming from England centre Jonathan Joseph.

Bath began nervously and Sarries dominated the opening half to grab a commanding 25-3 lead by the break.

It would also have been a tense afternoon for England head coach Stuart Lancaster with 19 of his World Cup training squad involved in the contest.

Farrell was, however, fortunate to escape at least a yellow card for a clear high-tackle on Bath full-back Anthony Watson. Referee Wayne Barnes chose to merely give a penalty as England's second choice full-back dangerously dragged his international team-mate to the turf.

Farrell then showed the good side of his nature as his sublime dummy pass fooled the Bath defence and opened up a large hole for the No10 to dart through and over the line for the first try. He composed himself to kick the extra points for the ideal start by the 2011 champions.

While Farrell and his team-mates celebrated, Watson, still dazed from his rival's high tackle, trundled off for the field for a concussion assessment.

Furious Bath head coach Mike Ford insisted Farrell should have been sent off.

"I thought he should have got a red card. It was an illegal challenge which hit Anthony square on the nose. But he stays on the field and gets man of the match and we lose an influential player," said Ford.

"What happened was a big concern. I've spoken to the referee Wayne Barnes about it and he said perhaps he should have looked at it again."

But Farrell, who grabbed a superb try just moments after his dangerous hit on Watson, said: "There was no intent. You don't want to see someone come off at the start of a big game like that. Unfortunately, I caught him. I said sorry to him."

Sarries almost capitalised again when Bath wing Matt Banahan lost Farrell's high punt towards the right hand corner due to the glare of the sun. David Strettle jumped with Banahan but just failed to catch it. If the wing had managed to do so he was over the line for a second try.

Yet, it did not take long for the men in white to race over the Bath line again with hooker Ross Batty failing to hold onto centre Kyle Eastmond's shot pass. It bounced down invitingly for Sarries No2 George, who showed commendable pace to cross the line with posse of Bath backs in vain pursuit.

It was the perfect way for George to celebrate his unexpected call up to the England training squad, in place of the suspended Dylan Hartley 24 hours earlier.

News that Watson, such a dangerous and influential player for Bath, would not be returning to the back line due to his head injury increased the concerns of their already fretful supporters. Such a big blow and loss to the Bath attacking game.

Farrell increased the lead with his first penalty before Bath finally found some momentum and pressure, and Semesa Rokoduguni almost set up a try. The right wing broke down the flank, chipped ahead but was cynically taken out by full-back Alex Goode.

George Ford kicked the penalty to put Bath on the scoreboard.

Sarries were controlling the game and a third try was soon on the cards with a sublime piece of skill from Strettle.

Farrell converted but Sarries lost captain and lock Alistair Hargreaves who sustained a head injury at the start of the break.

The tide which flowed in favour of Sarries in the first half suddenly turned as Ford's second penalty sparked a fightback, and Joseph darted over with pace and skill for their first try converted by Ford. Suddenly Bath were back in the race.

Ford and Farrell exchanged penalty blows but Bath failed to continue their revival and Sarries held firm for the victory.

Read more on:    saracens  |  bath  |  aviva premiership  |  owen farrell  |  rugby

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