Saracens hopes of booking a place in the LV=Cup final were ended at the Salford City Stadium on Sunday with Sale Sharks 21-15 winners.
The visitors held a 12-11 lead at the interval but a second half try from Nathan Fowles to add to a first half score from Tom Holmes secured the win for the home side.
Ben Spencer struck five penalties but it wasn’t enough to give the visitors a place in the final of the competition for the first time.
The icy wind blowing across the isolated Salford City Stadium did little to warm the fans in the ground in the opening periods of the game and it transformed itself onto the pitch where, despite much endeavour and effort, the action was dominated by the goalkickers.
Danny Cipriani gave the home side an early lead before Ben Spencer was on target with four efforts, two of them from long range, although another Cipriani effort made it 12-6 going into the closing stages of the half.
However, the home side reduced that advantage just before the break with a bizarre try. Throwing in on the Saracens 22, hooker Tommy Taylor made a complete mess of the throw, but the bouncing ball fell to second row Tom Holmes and he raced in to score to make it 12-11 at the break.
We had to wait nearly 20 minutes for the next score in the game as on the hour, Spencer kicked his side further into the lead. But that was only a prelude to a second Sale try.
Opting for a scrum instead of a penalty in front of the posts, the Sale pack inched forward before James Gaskell went within inches of the line before replacement scrum half Nathan Fowles smuggled the ball off the back row and touched down under a pile of bodies. Cipriani converted to give his side a three point lead with 10 minutes remaining.
Cipriani extended that lead with three minutes left on the clock which left Saracens needing a converted try to win the game but it proved to be too big a gap as Sale held on for the victory.
Pens: Spencer (5)
Ransom, Short, Wyles, Powell, Maddock (Wilson 50), Mordt (Hodgson 60), Spencer (De Kock 68), Auterac (Saunders 68), George (Brits 70), Du Plessis (Stevens 60), Kruis, Botha (Hargreaves 55), Melck (Saull 55), Fenton-Wells, Joubert.