The England coach Clive Woodward was last night presented with a potential headache for the forthcoming Six Nations' Championship when Mike Tindall was carried off in agony with an injury to his lower right leg which he suffered while scoring Bath's first try at Vicarage Road.
Bath's head coach John Connolly said: "Mike said he heard a crack somewhere above his ankle. He was in a tremendous amount of pain. We hope for the best but fear the worst." Initial scans at the Royal United Hospital in Bath showed something in-between no break, but soft tissue damage that will need another examination today to define. Now the England centre faces a fight to recover in time for the start of England's Six Nations' campaign against Italy in Rome on 15 February.
Tindall, who won the latest of his 33 caps in the World Cup final against Australia, had just pounced on to Olly Barkley's wicked little grubber for a well-worked try when he suffered the injury. Barkley converted and Zurich Premiership leaders Bath, who had earlier conceded a penalty to Thomas Castaignède, were in front.
Bath suffered further disruption when they lost Matt Perry to a groin injury 20 minutes later, but such was their organisation upfront and so thorough and well-drilled their defence that Saracens barely had a glimpse of the line. Still, Saracens looked vastly improved from the team which folded against Wasps last weekend. There was purpose in the loose and fire in their backs. But their line-out was poor and their defensive frailties were exposed a couple of minutes into the second half when Andrew Higgins, the Bath centre, slipped and slid his way through three feeble tackles. Barkley converted.
That setback seemed to ignite the Saracens engine room and they motored upfield, finally being rewarded with a try by Paul Bailey on the right, converted by Castaignède. Then came a moment of madness when Barkley was obstructed after hacking the ball ahead. The Bath No 10 was then given the honour of converting the resultant penalty try.
In a pulsating finish, Castaignède wriggled over for an 80th-minute try under the posts but his conversion was charged down. If that kick, or a penalty nine minutes later, had gone over Saracens would have had the consolation of a bonus point for finishing within seven points of Bath. But it was not to be and they trudged off still bottom but one in the table.
Saracens 15 Bath 24
Half-time: 3-10 Attendance: 11,477
Saracens: R Haughton (R Kydd, 50); D Cech, P Bailey, B Johnston, D O'Mahony; T Castaignède, K Bracken; S Sparks (E Bergamaschi, 68), R Ibanez (R Russell, 68-80), C Visagie, S Raiwalui (capt), A Codling (B Skirving, 80), K Chesney (T Roques, 71), T Randell, B Russell.
Bath: M Perry (A Crockett, 34); W Human, A Higgins, M Tindall (K Maggs, 15), S Danielli; O Barkley, M Wood; D Flatman, J Humphreys (L Mears, 55), D Bell (D Barnes, 77), S Borthwick, D Grewcock (capt; R Fidler, 73), A Beattie, I Feaunati, M Lipman (J Scaysbrook, 73).
Referee: M Fox (Letchworth).Reuse content