Â â€œI was doing my job for my team mates.â€
â€œYou want to win it so much and you want to do it for your mates that are around you and you want to be apart of hopefully something special…you want it that badly that it’s just relief really.â€ Said Owen Farrell.
It was a game that looked set to be a show stopper featuring Bathâ€™s creativity in attack and Saracens doggedness in defence. Bath were the home team here at HQ but even in the presence of 80,589 out in force, supported with a sea of blue, black and white, my heart was saying Bath to win but my head was saying Saracens.
When I witnessed Bath attacking from within their own 22′ early on, I knew that Saracens had brought their A game. Were Saracens going to leave their opponents red faced?
Well as Saracens swooped in and struck Bath with fierce attacking play and little set piece; swinging the play to the backs; left to right like a pendulum – I knew it would be their day. Owen Farrell was over like a shot… It only took six minutes. Faz converted his own try and then it was the exceptional hooker Jamie George who took a loose ball and tore away like a little terrier and walloped over for Sarries second in thirteen minutes.
Was this going to be an uphill struggle or a downwards spiral on the cards for Bath? Especially with the loss of Anthony Watson who was taken off and replaced permanently by Ollie Devoto after a high tackle by Owen Farrell. It probably should have been a yellow but Farrell got away lightly when referee Wayne Barnes didn’t reach for a card … I was amazed; and it was very concerning for Bath to lose such a valuable player so early on in this final.
Bath seemed at a loose end early on and when the scrum collapsed and Barnes penalised them, Faz slotted an extra three-pointer … they’d set sail and the wind was taking them in the general direction of Aviva Premiership Champions 2015.
Don’t get me wrong, Bath were giving it a good go in attack, that’s for sure but their defence had more holes than a sieve. Saracens defence in comparison was the brick wall we have come to expect and so should have Bath.
Semesa Rokoduguni did create an opportunity with a chip and chase on the wing but was unfortunately barged into touch by Alex Goode before he could follow it up! However this also wasn’t seen by Barnes as a ‘try scoring opportunity’ and no card was given, just the penalty. Luckily, Ford booted it good and Bath were finally on the scoreboard.
But Sarries were like little fire crackers!
An excellent example being an absolutely incredible set of football skills from David Strettle. He chipped and caught his own kick to take Saracens metres from the try line.
And George again showing his worth, by setting Chris Wyles up who finished the job off for Sarries third try of the first half.
Faz added the extras and this London side were on their way to victory…or was it too early to speculate?
Well, when Farrell slotted another penalty just short of the first forty – I couldn’t help but think the half time whistle couldn’t come soon enough for Bath. It was painful to watch…
HT Bath 3-25 Saracens
Saracens were in full control of this game and their versatility across the park was evident. But a high tackle again by Faz allowed Ford to put an extra three points on the board for Bath.
Bath needed to alter their play but was it going to happen?
It did in the front row…in the form of Nick Auterac, Rob Webber and Henry Thomas. Bath began to bounce, just managing to play the style of rugby they love and when Jonathan Joseph broke away and crossed, Twickenham erupted like a volcano. Phew â€¦ were we going to be treated to a contest at last!
Well Ford slotted one between the uprights for his third penalty but carelessness meant Farrell reciprocated a minute later, so maybe not.
Bath’s attacking play was too fragile and frivolous and fairly easy for the steel framed Wolfpack to counteract. They were on the hunt; hunting for the trophy and to be crowned Aviva Premiership Champions…and they weren’t going to let anything stop them.
For me, Bath seemed to play the occasion rather than the game and their style of rugby just didnâ€™t faze the Saracens who were psychologically well aware of what was required to win.
There is no doubt, that Saracens first try of this game was one of the most creative sequences leading to a try that you will ever see â€“ so Sarries have cultivated their creative side and like most other things they do â€“ it was A*. However there is also no doubt that their style of tackling is now â€˜on the edge,â€™ with two or three tacklers at a time are they just keeping it under the infringement radar?
Full Time: Bath 16-28 Saracens
Sarries wound the clock down with about twelve phases of pick and goes and for me their control and ability to do this just proved why they deserve to be Champions; this group of players are well accomplished and extremely classy.
Man of the Match was awarded to the cool kid on the block, Owen Farrell who played his heart out but in my opinion and spoke of his delighted after the game;
â€œIt’s been a tough season, for the team and myself a bit really. Obviously injuries happen and that’s all part of rugby and that’s how I took it. But it’s been tough to sit on the side line and watch these lads work hard day in day out at training and try and improve and get better and you can’t be out there with them doing it and not everything has gone our way on the field playing wise. We’ve finished top these last couple of years and come away with nothing and to finish fourth and have to fight for fourth place and to come through and do what we’ve done today is brilliant for us.â€
My Man on the Match would have gone to Jamie George who did a sterling job on the pitch!
Bad luck Bath; but we know you will be back with a bang!
By Rhiannon Chandler-Day
You can see more from Rhiannon at: http://rhiannonsrugbyunionblog.blogspot.co.uk