Joseph injury adds to Bath’s woes and gives England cause for concern

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Jonathan Joseph limped off early in Bath’s 41-6 Aviva Premiership defeat by Saracens at Allianz Park to give England an injury scare ahead of their tour to South Africa.

Joseph was on crutches after suffering what appeared to be an issue with his left ankle having been been caught awkwardly at a ruck shortly before the half-hour mark.

The outside centre, a fixture in the England team since 2015, was in obvious discomfort and Eddie Jones will await news on a setback that could prevent him from adding to his 40 caps against the Springboks in June.

It was a worrying development for injury-hit Bath, whose season continued to deteriorate as they slumped to a fifth defeat in six Premiership matches.

Wales fly-half Rhys Priestland contributed fully to the collapse in north London by assisting in three of the six tries conceded through his errant handling.

Saracens had the bonus point in the bank in the 49th minute when Owen Farrell capitalised on one of Priestland’s many errors and they are now guaranteed a top-four finish.

Schalk Brits’ skilful catch of a clearance on the full and immediate diving pass was the highlight of a full-blooded opening that saw Bath squander an overlap when Francois Louw hurled out a loose pass.

Saracens counter-attacked through Chris Wyles – who was making his 250th appearance for the club – and Alex Lozowski but while they were unable to finish the chance, an attacking line-out shortly after produced a try for the omnipresent Brits.

Frustration levels grew for Bath when they attacked with purpose as passes from Priestland and Kahn Fotuali’i released Aled Brew only for the former Wales wing to take the wrong option.

To compound the error, when the ball was recycled Priestland’s pass was blocked and in a heartbeat Nick Isiekwe reacted by gathering up the loose ball and feeding Liam Williams, who raced home from 75 metres out.

Isiekwe made a brilliant try-saving tackle on Fotuali’i after Taulupe Faletau and Brew had escaped down the left of the pitch – another instance of Bath playing fine rugby only to fall short at the key moment.

An error-strewn start to the second half by Priestland invited pressure and four minutes after the break Saracens had claimed their third try, Williams offloading from the floor for Richard Wigglesworth to touch down.

The nightmare continued for Priestland as he coughed up another intercept that was grabbed by Farrell, who ran 65 metres unopposed to cross under the posts.

With the bonus point wrapped up, Saracens began emptying their bench but were still able to conjure a fifth try against fading opposition with Schalk Burger scoring in the right corner following a mighty hand-off by Richard Barrington on Priestland.

And with the final whistle imminent, George Kruis broke upfield as the prelude to replacement Ben Spencer diving over.

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