Dec 18, 2016
Saracens make history as they see off the Sharks
Saracens made history by defeating Sale Sharks 24-10 in Pool 3’s round four clash at the AJ Bell Stadium, equalling Munster’s unbeaten record of 13 straight wins in the Champions Cup.
Late tries from Owen Farrell and replacement wing Nathan Earle saw off a much improved and spirited Sale side whose ill-discipline cost them throughout the contest.
Farrell, who finished the game with a personal 19-point haul, crossed for the game changing try in the 73rd minute collecting a wonderful offload from replacement Will Skelton to crash over and score. In the dying embers of the game Nathan Earle raced onto a clever Alex Goode cover to score his side’s second try of the contest.
It was a game that would never be described as a classic, and apart from the flurry of tries in the last seven minutes the contest was low on try scoring chances. The Sharks gave a debut to Rugby League convert Denny Solomona, a player renowned for his try-scoring prowess in the thirteen-a-side game, but it was a debut to forget for the former Castleford Tigers flyer as he spurned two try scoring chances in the game. Solomona’s fellow league recruit Josh Charnley was a threat to Saracens through the first half. The former Wigan wing sliced through the Sarries defence after nine minutes but after offloading to Sharks full-back Mike Haley the ball was fumbled by Solomana who had 20 metres and no covering defenders to score.
Sarries dusted themselves down and Owen Farrell clocked the first points of the game with a 14th minute penalty after Sale strayed offside from a scrum only for Sale No10 AJ MacGinty level the scores with a penalty of his own. Saracens though added another penalty to edge in front to lead 6-3 at the break.
After the half-time Owen Farrell was uncharacteristically wayward with two penalty attempts but the Champions Cup leading points scorer was soon back in the groove when he landed a 59th minute effort after Sharks lock Bryn Evans was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.
With the game at 9-3 Sale missed a great chance to score the game’s first try when Solomona couldn’t gather a fine cross-field kick from MacGinty with the line at his mercy. It was a let off for Saracens and they would punish Sale for their profligacy when Owen Farrell landed a penalty in the aftermath of another Sharks yellow card, this time it was TJ Ioane who was sent from the field for a dangerous tackle.
Down to 14-men the Sharks couldn’t hold out Saracens. Farrell crossed for the pivotal try of the game but the architect was Will Skelton. The giant Australian lock forward burst through the Sale defenders and produced a sumptuous offload for his fly-half to run onto. Farrell barrelled over to score and converted his own try.
After one substitution made a telling impact, it was left to another to round off a hard-fought win when Nathan Earle showed a glimpse of his devastating pace in Sarries second try of the evening. Alex Goode shimmied past some tired Sale defenders and rolled a clever grubber kick in behind replacement wing Arscott, and Earle was always going win the foot race as he collected the ball before rounding the Sharks cover to score under the posts.
The Sharks would get their try at the end of the game when Bryn Evans crossed the whitewash with a minute left to play but it was Saracens day.
Saracens: Alex Goode; Sean Maitland (Earle 74), Marcelo Bosch, Brad Barritt (c), Chris Wyles; Owen Farrell (Lozowski 74), Richard Wigglesworth (Spencer 72); Mako Vunipola (Barrington 62), Schalk Brits (George 51), Petrus du Plessis (Figallo 51), Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Michael Rhodes (Skelton 51), Schalk Burger (Brown 72), Jackson Wray.
Replacements: Jamie George, Richard Barrington, Juan Figallo, Will Skelton, Kelly Brown, Ben Spencer, Alex Lozowski, Nathan Earle
Scores Tries Farrell (73); Earle (79);
Cons Farrell x 1
Penalties Farrell x 4/6
Sale Sharks: Michael Haley; Denny Solomona, Sam James, Johnny Leota (Jennings 70), Josh Charnley (Arscott 65); AJ MacGinty, James Mitchell (Phillips 55); Ross Harrison (Flynn 67), Rob Webber (Briggs) (70), Halani Aulika (Parker 67), Bryn Evans, Andrei Ostrikov (Mills 74) , Cameron Neild (Seymour 74), Magnus Lund (c), TJ Ioane:
Replacements: Neil Briggs, James Flynn, Ciaran Parker, Jon Mills, David Seymour, Mike Phillips, Mark Jennings, Tom Arscott
Scores Try Evans (79):
Cons MacGinty x 1
Penalty MacGinty X1
Scoring sequence 0-3 Farrell pen; 3-3 MacGinty pen; 3-6 Farrell pen; 3-9 Farrell pen; 3-12 Farrell pen;
3-17 Farrell try; 3-19 Farrell con; 3-24 Earle try; 8-24 Evans try; 10-24 MacGinty con:
Yellow cards: Webber (45); Evans(57); Ioane(68):
Man of the Match Schalk Burger