Match Centre: Gallagher Premiership: Bristol Bears 20-41 Saracens

Maro Itoje scored two first half tries for Saracens
Maro Itoje scored two first half tries for Saracens

Bristol Bears 20-41 Saracens, Ashton Gate

Saracens inched closer for a play-off spot as they defeated Bristol Bears 41-20 in the 17th round of the Gallagher Premiership at Ashton Gate on Saturday.

Saracens now have moved to the second place in the table with 56 points while Bristol will now be hoping for a bonus point win over Harlequins in their next game and hope for other results to go their way in order to secure a qualification.

Bristol were the first to open their account as Joe Batley powered over in the 4th minute and AJ MacGinty followed with a conversion and a penalty goal to make it 10-0.

Their momentum took a beating when Siva Naulago was sin-binned in the 13th minute for a deliberate knock on following which Owen Farrell and MacGinty traded penalties to make it 13-3.

Saracens though dominated the remainder of the opening half as Juan Martin Gonzalez allowed Maro Itoje to touchdown in the 23rd minute and Farrell improved to make it 13-10 before Elliot Daly kicked a three-pointer in the 27th minute to level the scores.

With seven minutes left to the break, Itoje completed his second following a close-range line-out and Daly followed with a conversion and a penalty goal to ensure Mark McCall's men completed the opening half with a 13-23 lead.

Daly helped Saracens off the block early in the second half with a penalty goal and shortly they had Itoje yellow carded for a head-on-head collision with Steven Luatua and Ben Earl joined him for a ruck infringement leaving the visitors down to 13 players temporarily.

Bristol made use of the numerical advantage with Harry Thacker diving over at the back of a maul and James Williams' conversion before Daly kicked another three pointer to make it 20-29 by the end of the third quarter.

Any chance of a Bristol comeback was put off as Rotmi Segun dived over in the corner and Juan-Martin Gonzalez followed the suit in the 65th minute as Saracens completed a 21 point victory.

Team line up:

Newcastle: Brown, Radwan, Moroni, Hutchison, Redshaw, Connon, Stuart; Brocklebank, Blamire, Bello, Cardall, De Chaves, Cross, Pepper, Chick (c).

Reserves: Palframan, B Byrne, Dormer, Hawkins, Lockwood, Spencer, Elliott, Jennings.

Bath: Gallagher, Cokanasiga, Lawrence, Redpath, Muir, Russell, Spencer (c); Obano, Dunn, Du Toit, Rowe, Ewels, Hill, Underhill, Barbeary.

Reserves: Bayliss, Annett, Stuart, Schoeman, Schreuder, Bailey, Reid, Du Plessis.

Widely regarded as the most competitive rugby union league in the can only be the Gallagher Premiership.

The division is becoming more and more exciting as each year passes by so who will be lifting silverware at Twickenham in May?

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