It was a return to normal for the champions on Friday night as they went back to London with the full five point victory after a dominating performance at the home of the Premiership new boys.
The game saw George Kruis make a welcome return to Saracens colours after a back injury kept him out for three weeks, whilst there was a premiership debut for Matt Gallagher, who started in place of Chris Ashton. Bristol were handing out a first cap of their own to former Doncaster player Will Hurrell.
Saracens started well getting a long string of early phases together that was orchestrated well by Ben Spencer and Alex Lozowski at half back (both of whom were among the nine Saracens players to be announced in England’s EPS only a few hours earlier). The ball then went dead when Lozowski put slightly too much on a probing grubber that went over the dead ball line.
The first try of the game came from Lozowski when he skated over after a brilliantly sold dummy that fooled Jack Lam and the rest of the Bristol defence and saw him cross over with just 13 minutes on the clock. Ben Spencer then converted to make to score 0-7 to the visitors. The lead soon became 10 points when a well placed kick from Spencer coupled with some tenacious work in defence from young Nick Tompkins gave Saracens a penalty that Spencer sent through the posts.
The rest of the first half saw no more change to the score board as Bristol struggled to make the most of their chances and the home defence stayed strong under the relentless pressure from the London club.
The only half time change saw Juan Figallo come on for Petrus Du Plessis at tighthead for Saracens although the change at ends seemed to be a real turning point in the game as the pressure Saracens had exerted in the first half finally gave way to points. First came a 45m penalty from Spencer just three minutes after the break (awarded for Bristol being offside at the breakdown). This was then followed by Lozowski’s second try of the night when he charged down Adam Jarvis’ attempted clearance and dived on the ball before it went dead on the 45th minute- this was then converted by Spencer. The third try came from some of the more experienced players as Schalk Burger cut an amazing line to open up the space for Chris Wyles to run in for his first of the season just before the hour mark.
Next, England’s replacement hooker throughout the Summer Tour of Australia, Jamie George dotted down for the bonus point score when a succession of penalties lead to a Saracens lineout five metres from the Bristol line and after hitting his man in the lineout, George collected the ball at the back of the maul and steered his forwards over the line. This happened just after former member of the Saracens academy, Max Crumpton, was sin-binned for Bristol due to the high number of penalties they were conceding.
The game was wrapped up in the dying moments when Kruis went over for the visitors fifth try of the night after Bristol lost the ball after turning it over on their own line and Kruis ignored the options outside him and dived over the white-wash.
Bristol will be disappointed not to score a point but they have now come to the end of a tough block of fixtures and will hope to turn things around against Newcastle next weekend. Saracens on the other hand will head home to face the in-form Wasps at the Allianz next Saturday.