Belfast Telegraph

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Stevens stars against old employers

Matt Stevens helped bang a nail into Bath's Aviva Premiership play-off hopes with a man of the match display as Saracens tightened their grip on second place with a 20-9 victory at Vicarage Road.

Stevens faced his former club for the first time since leaving the Recreation Ground in the wake of failing a drugs test that landed him with a two-year ban. The resurgent England prop is rebuilding his career at Saracens where he has impressed in his eight appearances to date.

Winger David Strettle enjoyed a lively afternoon and scored the only try while Alex Goode kicked five penalties, but it was the forwards that did the real damage. Apart from collapsing in the first scrum of the match, Saracens' pack were in control throughout and dominated the final quarter. Bath fly-half Butch James kicked all of his side's points.

Bath viewed this match as a must-win if they were to reignite their ambition of reaching the play-offs after last weekend's thumping by Leicester. But even with games in hand on most of their rivals, the outcome means they are highly unlikely to finish in the top four.

Saracens, however, seem destined for home advantage in the play-offs after emerging convincing winners from an attritional encounter. The victory has seen them amass 29 points from seven games and they have timed their run into the business end of the season perfectly.

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