Sep 27, 2014
Saracens slay Sale to move top
Saracens went back to the top of the Aviva Premiership table after a four try win against Sale Sharks at Allianz Park.
As it was Jamie George’s 100th appearance for the club it was fitting that it was the Saracens front-row who did the damage, with Rhys Gill, George and James Johnston continually pressurising their opponents at scrum-time in an impressive set-piece display that must leave Saracens Forwards Coach, and ex-Sale Sharks custodian Alex Sanderson, a happy man.
Saracens began the match at a furious pace, shifting the ball at any opportunity, using their ball-carrying forward to great effect to punch holes into the Sharks defensive unit.
After some rumbles forward from Rhys Gill (who carried well throughout his 50 minute display) and Jackson Wray, the burst from a ruck to find Alex Goode on the bounce. The England full-back then danced around three would-be Shark defenders before outpacing the Sale cover to score under the posts. Hodgson converted to give Saracens a 7-0 lead after three minutes.
Saracens had their tails up, and with half-backs Neil de Kock and Charlie Hodgson continuing to get their team over the gainline the Sharks continued to toil in their own 22-metre area. Ex-Saracens flanker David Seymour was penalised for failing to roll away at the breakdown. Hodgson made no mistake kicking the penalty to increase Saracens lead to ten to nothing.
To their credit the Sharks responded almost immediately when a strong rolling maul caused havoc in the Saracens defence. Seymour atoned for his earlier transgression to score against his former employers. Cipriani converted to reduce Sarries lead to three points.
Cipriani then saw a drop-goal attempt go wide, before Brad Barritt was forced from the filed with a tight calf, for Nick Tompkins to come on and make his Premiership home debut.
Hodgson sent over another penalty to extend Saracens lead after the Saracens front-row continued to pressure their Greater Manchester counterparts.
Minutes later Saracens would cross for their second of the afternoon. Charlie Hodgson took the ball to the Sharks line and sent out a sumptuous cut out pass from left-to-right to find winger Chris Ashton. Ashton showed great awareness to draw Sharks winger Arscott into the tackle only to pop the ball to No.8 Ernst Joubert on the overlap. The experience back-rower collected the ball and powered over to score despite the attentions of two Sale defenders. Hodgson converted out wide via a deflection from the uprights – Saracens led 23-7.
With the half wearing down, and both sides kicking for territory Saracens continued to press at the scrum and their efforts were duly awarded when Referee JP Doyle lost patience with the Sharks forwards and awarded a penalty try to Saracens right on half-rime. Hodgson converted to give Saracens a 30-7 lead at the break.
Sale were a much better side after the interval. Saracens continued to cough up possession and waste good field position and Steve Diamond’s charges punished the home side accordingly when Tom Brady collected his own kick to score. Cipriani missed the conversion.
The Sharks, spurred by their second-half start looked dangerous, with their man ball carriers continuing to cause Saracens defence problems. Alex Goode was then sin-binned as Saracens scrambled to defend their own line, but the Sharks couldn’t make their extra man pay with the Sarries full-back in the bin.
Saracens though rallied, even with Sale holding the numerical advantage it would be the home side who would cross next when Richard Barrington barged over. With Tom Jones’ Delilah ringing around the stadium, replacement half-back Richard Wigglesworth sent over the conversion.
As the game drew to a close the Sharks would be awarded a penalty try of their own after George Kruis (who was sin-binned for his transgression) brought down a Sale driving maul. Cipriani converted.
With the game almost over, David Seymour was yellow carded for some cynical play at the breakdown. Alex Goode sent over the penalty to bring up Saracens’ 40.
Final Score: Saracens 40 Sale Sharks 19.