London (AFP) - Two tries from Chris Ashton helped champions Saracens to a 53-10 thrashing of Bath to send an ominous message to their title challengers.
Ashton's brace -- a reminder to Saracens fans of what they will miss next term as he heads to Top 14 side Toulon -- plus six other tries kept Saracens third in the English Premiership.
Saracens are six points shy of leaders Wasps, who were fortunate to beat 14-man Worcester Warriors 40-33 also on Sunday, the struggling Premiership side having the better of the game till Bryce Heem was sent off early in the second-half.
Worcester's consolation was to pick up two bonus points and extend their lead over bottom placed Bristol to nine points, which should be enough of a gap to see the Warriors retain their place among the elite.
Exeter and Leicester occupy the other two-play-off spots with four matches of the regular season remaining.
Second-placed Exeter, beaten by Saracens in last season's final, beat Sale on Saturday while Leicester gave departing head coach Aaron Mauger a parting gift with a 36-31 win over Northampton.
Leicester have a three point advantage over Bath, who have lost their form at the worst possible time with three successive defeats, adding spice to their encounter in a fortnight's time.
Saracens had Bath on the backfoot from the start and never allowed their opponents to use the wind at their backs in the first-half to establish any sort of momentum.
The visitors -- who have not beaten Saracens on their home patch since 2010 -- were overwhelmed by three first-half tries from Jamie George, Alex Goode -- a sublime team effort with Ashton supplying the decisive offload -- and Sean Maitland.
With just Anthony Watson's try to show for their efforts and five points form George Ford, things only got worse in the second-half for Bath.
Schalk Brits gained Saracens the valuable bonus point with a try on the hour mark before former England centre Brad Barritt, Toulon-bound Ashton's brace and Billy Vunipola rubbed salt into Bath's very open wound.
"I think it was tighter than the scoreline reflected," Barritt told BT Sport.
"We're really pleased with how the team kicked on and got the momentum in the second half.
"Our half-backs put us in the right position and how we adapted to the conditions."
Wasps will heave a sigh of relief after being given an almighty scare by Worcester, not even being able to relax after stretching their lead to 40-19 after Heem was sent off.
Their opponents stormed back to score two converted tries -- Wasps by now down to 14 players as Matt Mullan had been sin-binned -- but the clock ran out to prevent them completing an extraordinary comeback and recording their first win at Wasps since New Year's Day in 2012.
Both Wasps' Christian Wade and Worcester's Josh Adams scored two tries apiece -- taking the former onto a Premiership leading 14 tries for the campaign and also alongside Wasps' all-time leading try scorer and former Scotland wing Kenny Logan on 79.