Welsh double sinks Saracens

Saracens 30 - Bath 37
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The Independent Online

There was not a lot for Saracens to squeeze out of this fixture, though they did have the consolation of two bonus points thanks to the introduction of their new signing Glen Jackson and a ferocious last 10 minutes.

There was not a lot for Saracens to squeeze out of this fixture, though they did have the consolation of two bonus points thanks to the introduction of their new signing Glen Jackson and a ferocious last 10 minutes.

Their loss of close to £50,000 because of the administrative oversight which caused this fixture to be switched from Watford to Northampton will have been keenly felt. Originally scheduled to be played yesterday, Saracens omitted to ask Bath whether they would be prepared to play the match without their England players, given that clubs cannot field such men six days before a Test.

Bath naturally declined. Saracens could not play at Vicarage Road on Saturday because Watford were at home, which also ruled out Friday night. No agreement could be reached for a later fixture or a straight swap to play this leg at Bath. Saracens have no reserve ground - London Irish, who share with Reading, can fall back on Sunbury and Wasps, at Wycombe, have Loftus Road - so a trip to Northampton became necessary, and 11 costly coaches carried season ticket holders up the M1.

Bath, on the other hand, had much to celebrate, not least their first win on this ground since 2000. They have also made what could prove the signing of the season in capturing Frikkie Welsh from South Africa's Blue Bulls. He marked his debut with two brilliantly taken tries and contributed massively in defence from the wing, though he has just spent the Currie Cup campaign at outside-centre.

"He is typical of outside-centres who play on the wing; they tend to look for work," said his coach, John Connolly. "I think he is pretty unfortunate not to have made the Springbok tour." Bath would not welcome a call-up. With Matt Perry, Lee Best and Joe Maddock already injured they lost Andy Higgins with a suspected fractured jaw just after the right wing had scored his try.

Ollie Barkley, playing at full-back as a temporary measure during the injury crisis, added: "Frikkie is fantastic, he has been a breath of fresh air coming into the side. You can see that whether he is a centre or a wing he is going to cause teams problems."

Jackson, Saracens' debutant, also made a difference. After six minutes on the pitch he wriggled over for a try. They can expect a lot more prodding from the former Waikato Chiefs fly-half this season.

Saracens: Tries Vyvyan, Kydd, Jackson, Rauluni; Conversions Kydd, Jackson; Penalties Kydd 2. Bath: Tries Welsh 2, Higgins, Tindall; Conversions Barkley, Malone 3; Penalties Malone 2; Drop goal Malone.

Saracens: R Kydd; R Haughton (P Bailey, 48), B Johnston, D Harris, T Vaikona; M Bartholomeusz (G Jackson, 63), M Rauluni (M Williams, 76); K Yates (N Lloyd, 50), M Cairns (R Ibañez, 63), B Broster, K Chesney (B Skirving, 61), S Raiwalui, T Randell, H Vyvyan (capt), D Seymour (B Russell, 75).

Bath: O Barkley; A Higgins (B Daniel, 32), A Crockett, M Tindall, F Welsh; C Malone, M Wood (N Walshe, 76); D Barnes, J Humphreys (capt; L Mears, 69-80), D Bell, S Borthwick, D Grewcock (R Fidler, 20-26), A Beattie (J Scaysbrook, 29), I Feaunati, M Lipman.

Referee: S Davey (Sussex)

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