MATCH REPORT | Saracens Men 33-22 Sale Sharks
Alex Goode’s record-breaking 339th appearance for Saracens had a fairytale scriptwriter as the Men in Black continued their perfect start to the season with a heroic 33-22 win over Sale Sharks.
The hosts were forced to defend for large periods but wrestled their way to another win which further extends their lead at the top of the Gallagher Premiership table.
Sale thought they had got off to the perfect start with just 45 seconds on the clock when Tom O’Flaherty gathered a pass and went straight over in the corner, but luckily for the hosts a check with the TMO identified a forward pass.
They did get over shortly after though, a rolling maul allowed Ben Curry to power over from close range as they continued their strong start to the match. The conversion came back off the post, but the visitors had an early 5-0 lead.
The lead didn’t last long though, as Goode’s fairytale day was marked with a brilliant try. He spotted a gap in the Sale defence, dummied and then pinned his ears back to score a fantastic individual try. The conversion went wide but crucially Sarries were back level.
Sale went back in front courtesy of a Robert du Preez penalty, and then they took control of the game on the 15 minute mark with their second try. A penalty was kicked to the corner, and then with the maul powering over it was brought down and gave Wayne Barnes no option but to award a penalty try. Ben Earl was sent to the sin-bin in the process, putting the hosts up against it at StoneX.
With very little possession Sarries had to rely on scraps to get themselves back in the match, and a long-range penalty from Elliot Daly got them back to within a score with 15 minutes left of the first half.
They then got level in truly sensational style as StoneX rose to its feet to celebrate a wonder try. Alex Lozowski’s break took play in to the 22, and then it went from right to left and found Theo McFarland whose barnstorming run saw him rampage over the line in the blink of an eye. Goode’s touchline conversion made it 15-15 as we approached half time.
The hosts were then strongly on the front foot with their ball carriers making good yards, and they were rewarded two minutes before the break as a Goode penalty ensured they had an 18-15 lead at the break.
Sarries then made the ideal start to the second half, as first time captain Ben Earl stormed over for another brilliant try. Nick Tompkins charged in to the Sale half and released Alex Lewington, and then it went swiftly through the hands to Earl who broke the line and dived over. The conversion went wide, but the lead was now up to eight points.
The lead grew to 11 when Daly’s second penalty, which was from 55 metres out went over in front of the North Stand and brought the home fans to their feet.
Daly was then sent to the sin-bin for taking a Sale player out in the air, and shortly after Tompkins was also yellow-carded for a high shot as the hosts were down to 13 with a big final quarter ahead.
Tommy Taylor then thought he had cut the deficit for Sale with a close range score but he was penalised for a double movement and Sarries survived to the relief of the home crowd.
The pressure told with an hour on the clock though, as another string of penalties took them right up to the line and then with a huge overlap on the left hand side Joe Carpenter could stroll over with acres of space ahead of him. The conversion from du Preez then cut our lead to four points as we entered the final quarter.
Then a huge moment came with nine minutes to go as Sale were camped on the Sarries line but they managed to soak up the pressure and get the turnover despite defending for phase after phase in heroic fashion.
Sarries then put the gloss on a bonus point win when Tompkins crossed for the fourth try with just four minutes left. Goode’s grubber kick caused all sorts of bother for the Sale defence and popped up perfectly for the Welsh centre to seal the victory. Goode’s conversion made it 33-22 as Stonex roared in to life once again.
The home side then saw out the final minutes to confirm what could well be seen as their biggest win of the season so far.