Nov 10, 2017
Young Sarries undone away to Sale
Saracens were left ruing what might have been for a second successive week in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, as they were beaten by Sale Sharks 29-22 at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Despite leading 19-13 at the break, it was the hosts who rallied for with second half scores from prop forward Alexandru Tarus and full-back Mike Haley the difference.
Saracens, who started so promisingly when lock forward Will Skelton scored after ten minutes play, could only add three points to their first half efforts, with outside half Max Malins in metronomic form with the boot, landing six kicks from six attempts. His efforts were though ultimately in vain, as was a superb individual performance from Matt Gallagher, who was accomplished under the high ball in difficult conditions in the shadow of the M60 flyover.
Fly-halves AJ MacGinty and Max Malins traded penalties in the opening exchanges of what was an entertaining first-half in Salford. It was the Sharks who hit the lead when AJ MacGinty landed a penalty goal after four minutes play only for his opposite number Malins to level the game minutes later.
It was Saracens who crossed for the game’s first try and giant Australian lock Will Skelton was the scorer. Skelton, who’s effort is his first try in Sarries colours in what is his second spell with the club., powered over from close range with the Sharks defence unable to stop the 22-stone lock after Sarries went close with a driving maul – Malins converted.
Malins was in fine fettle from the kicking tee in the opening half and after MacGinty had kicked a 19th minute penalty, Saracens England U20 playmaker landed three more kicks in the first forty, with his third coming after Sale flanker Ben Curry scored an opportunistic try from an overthrown Saracens lineout in the 33th minute.
The second-half was a chastising experience for this young Sarries side, as the game gradually escaped Adam Powell’s charges.
With the conditions worsening and Sale wrestling the ascendency in both the loose and the set-piece Saracens just couldn’t get a foothold into proceedings.
With fly-half AJ MacGinty still in the sin-bin for his first-half discretion at the breakdown, Will Cliff stepped up to land a penalty for the hosts before their tighthead prop Tarus bulldozed his way over for a score after 51 minutes.
Malins hit-back for Sarries with a penalty goal but Sale responded with a MacGinty penalty before full-back Haley scored in the 71st minute. Haley finished off a sweeping move started by the Sharks in-form wing Byron McGuigan, who grubbered through to cause havoc in the Sarries backfield.
Sarries rallied, and had their chances in the closing stages with two lineouts deep in the Sale 22, but Paul Deacon’s Sharks side hung-on for the win.
Saracens: 15 Matt Gallagher; 14 Mike Ellery (Crossdale 67’), 13 Rotimi Segun (Bird-Tulloch 71’), 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Nathan Earle; 10 Max Malins, 9 Tom Whiteley (Spencer 55;) 1 Richard Barrington (Thompson-Stringer 41’), 2 Scott Spurling (McElroy 48’), 3 Kieran Longbottom (Walker 67’); 4 Will Skelton (Cutmore 55’), 5 Mark Flanagan; 6 Jack Nay (Reffell 62’), 7 Joel Conlon, 8 Ben Earl.
Replacements: 16 Tadgh McElroy, 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 18 Billy Walker, 19 Danny Cutmore, 20 Sean Reffell, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Rueben Bird-Tulloch, 23 Ali Crossdale
Tries: Will Skelton (10’)
Conversions: Max Malins 1/1
Penalties: Max Malins 5/5
Full-Time Score: Sale Sharks 29 Saracens 22