Bath denied by old boy Banahan, Vunipola scores on Saracens return
Bath were denied victory over local rivals Gloucester by a familiar face, while Billy Vunipola marked his return to action with a try for Saracens on a busy Saturday in the Premiership.
Tom Dunn scored two tries as Bath fought back from a 21-0 deficit to lead 31-24 going into the closing minutes, butformer player Matt Banahan denied them with a score created by a sensational no-look pass from Danny Cipriani.
Billy Twelvetrees kicked the conversion to level the scores at the Rec, securing Gloucester – who recorded an impressive win over Northampton Saints in the opening round of fixtures – a dramatic 31-31 draw.
Bristol Bears looked to be on course for an upset when they led Saracens 18-13 at half-time, only for the reigning champions to hit back.
Liam Williams scored a 25-minute hat-trick off the bench as Sarries claimed a bonus-point triumph against the top-flight new boys, though the hosts were aided by the dismissal of Bristol's George Smith for a dangerous tackle early in the second half.
Replacement Vunipola also touched down on his comeback from a broken arm suffered on England's tour to South Africa in June, while international team-mate Owen Farrell booted four conversions and a pair of penalties.
Last year's beaten finalists Exeter Chiefs have started the campaign impressively, their second successive bonus-point triumph coming away at Wasps.
Sam Simmonds and Henry Slade grabbed two tries apiece as the Chiefs pulled away in the second half to win 42-31.
Wasps' cause was not helped by the loss of England forwards Brad Shields and Nathan Hughes to injury, the former seeing his debut cut short following a collision with Exeter scrum-half Stu Townsend.
Leicester Tigers began life under Geordan Murphy with a 49-33 victory over Newcastle Falcons, giving their former player a successful start as interim head coach after he replaced Matt O'Connor at the helm.
The Tigers led 40-19 by the interval, Jonny May collecting a brace of tries while George Ford also crossed once, helping the fly-half finish the contest with a personal haul of 29 points.
Lots of points and tries already this weekend— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) September 8, 2018
But thanks to @Stu_Farmer for confirming the Premiership record for one round is 503 points and 68 tries in 1998-99
How many more will we get tomorrow? #GallagherPrempic.twitter.com/y4R9S1xwkc