Bracken takes his revenge on Bath

Bath 6 - Saracens 13

It would be an exaggeration to describe this as one of Kyran Bracken's great moments, for Bath were so spectacularly hopeless at the Recreation Ground on Saturday that Saracens did not need to be anything better than average to pocket the points. Yet there was no disguising the scrum-half's satisfaction at the final whistle, the profound level of which had its roots in a career-long relationship between the player and his hosts based on trust and understanding. Bracken never trusted Bath, while Bath never understood Bracken.

In the early 1990s, Bath shifted heaven and earth to recruit the freshly capped youngster from Bristol. When he knocked them back on the perfectly reasonable grounds that apostasy is bad for the soul, they sought the revenge of the spurned at every opportunity, booting the half-back from one end of the West Country to the other whenever he ventured within range.

As a result, Bracken always pumped himself up for an afternoon's thud and blunder on the banks of the Avon. Here, on what was probably his last visit to the Rec, he was motivation made flesh.

And how he performed. Taine Randell, the former All Black captain, may have led Saracens on to the field, but it was Bracken who read the riot act before kick-off, hollering four-lettered instructions in the faces of his colleagues, eyes ablaze and fists clenched. These were not empty words or false gestures. Hardly one of rugby's more celebrated pugilists, he nevertheless picked fights with the half the Bath pack as a means of demonstrating his commitment to the cause.

His judgement on a filthy day was exemplary - when Bath had the wind and rain at their backs in the second half, he repeatedly frustrated them with his tactical kicking - and his tackling bordered on the epic. Bracken has proved himself a model of courageous application on far grander stages than this - Twickenham, Bloemfontein and the Subiaco Oval in Perth, Western Australia come easily to mind - but this was quite something, all the same.

Randell was not far behind him. When Bath cranked up the heat in the final few minutes, he snuffed out two dangerous attacks single-handedly. But the New Zealander's influence was evident far earlier in the contest when he pointed a finger at his young back-row buddy, Ben Skirving, and urged him to stand tall in the stirrups. Suitably inspired by Randell's exhortations, Skirving repeatedly made ground from the base of the scrum to deny Bath their customary forward platform.

Saracens have not lost since Steve Diamond succeeded Rod Kafer as head coach, and are clearly buying into the former Sale hooker's pragmatic approach. Glen Jackson may not be much of a tackler - Glenda Jackson would do a better job in that department - but the new outside-half plays the territory card well enough and keeps his tight five on the front foot. Bath are rarely bettered in the heavyweight department, but they were second best for long periods at the weekend.

Jackson might have conceded a penalty try late in the day - his knock-on, highly beneficial to his own side given the size of the Bath overlap, had more than a whiff of the deliberate about it - and Saracens were certainly helped by an injury to Kevin Yates, which led to uncontested scrums at the last knockings. But their try shortly before the interval, created by Thomas Castaignède and finished by Richard Haughton, was far in advance of anything Bath threatened to achieve in their impotence, so any sense of injustice was minimal.

Bath: Penalties Barkley 2. Saracens: Try Haughton; Conversion Jackson; Penalties Jackson 2.

Bath: M Perry; B Daniel, A Crockett, O Barkley, F Welsh (J Maddock, 68); C Malone, N Walshe (A Williams, 75); D Barnes, L Mears (D Ward, 50), M Stevens (D Bell, 61), S Borthwick (capt), D Grewcock, A Beattie, I Fea'unati, J Scaysbrook (M Lipman, 61).

Saracens: M Bartholomeusz; R Haughton, T Castaignède (K Sorrell, 74), D Harris, T Vaikona; G Jackson, K Bracken; K Yates (B Russell, 79), M Cairns, B Broster (N Lloyd, 35), I Fullarton, S Raiwalui (K Chesney, 65), T Randell (capt), B Skirving, D Seymour.

Referee: R Maybank (Kent).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory