Dec 06, 2014
Saracens back to winning ways
Saracens earned a crucial 19-15 victory against Sale Sharks in the Champions Cup on Saturday to maintain their challenge in Europe.
It was backs against the wall stuff in the closing stages with Sale camped on the Saracens line but a terrific defensive effort summed up by Chris Ashton winning the crucial turnover with the final play of the game earned the north London side the victory that sets up another important clash in seven days time when the Sharks make the return visit to Allianz Park.
The visiting side started the game brightly and were quickly going through the phases in the Sale 22, earning an early penalty for Charlie Hodgson to strike through the posts.
But five minutes later the home pack took hold of the ball from a lineout deep in the Saracens 22 and with a perfect set-up at the maul they powered their way over. Danny Cipriani converted.
The visitors were back in the lead on 15 minutes with a fantastic try created by Hodgson. The playmaker took the ball on halfway and shimmied his way past three defenders before releasing Owen Farrell on his shoulder to slide over the line.
Cipriani’s penalty from 40 metres on 32 minutes gave Sale the lead once again before Farrell struck just before the break to give the visitors an 11-10 lead at the interval with Hodgson having left the field minutes earlier with a shoulder problem.
The good work from the visitors continued immediately after the break when the forwards took a lineout in the Sale 22 and powered forward. And after Duncan Taylor and Marcelo Bosch joined the forwards, they marched forward and Billy Vunipola touched down.
The visitors enjoyed much of the possession for the next 20minutes until the hour mark when Sale hit back. Magnus Lund did most of the damage in the middle of the pitch with a surging run and then second row Andrei Ostrikov burst through a tackle to score.
Crucially, Nick MacLeod missed the conversion which mean the visitors still enjoyed a one point lead and that was stretched to four points when Farrell struck a drop goal.
Sale pushed forward in the closing stages when a series of set piece penalties gave them much of the field position but the visitors held on with a great defensive effort.