Dec 13, 2014
Saracens 28 Sale Sharks 15
Saracens ran in three tries to beat Sale Sharks 28-15 at Allianz Park to top Pool 1 of the European Champions Cup.
Tries from Alex Goode, and two fine team efforts in the second half from replacement Ben Ransom and Man of the Match Billy Vunipola did the damage, as Owen Farrell kicked 13 points in a typically impressive kicking display from the kicking tee.
The match began with a fine firework display as the teams ran out, yet the first half action didn’t go as far as replicating the excitement, colour and noise of the prematch pyrotechnics.
Saracens really should have taken the lead when David Strettle received a Chris Ashton pass metres from the tryline. With the Allianz Park faithful awaiting the customary blast of Ini Kamoze’s reggae-fusion hit of the ‘Here Comes the Hotstepper’ (Strettle’s chosen try tune), the 31-year-old wing inexplicably fumbled the ball with the line at his mercy.
Saracens though would establish a lead, with Owen Farrell knocking over quick-fire back-to-back penalty goals to give Saracens a six-zip lead.
It would be the visitors who would cross for the games first try, when evergreen Australian-come-Scottish international Nathan Hines leaped over a collection of Sarries and Sharks bodies to dot down the ball in a move more akin to the NFL then the European Champions Cup. MacLeod failed to convert a difficult kick.
As the half wore on Saracens hit back when Alex Goode squeezed into the corner finishing off a move that started with a strong midfield break from Duncan Taylor as the sides went into sheds with Saracens leading 11-5.
After the break Saracens looked to continue to hunt for tries, but it was a penalty goal what would come first when Owen Farrell slotted over a well struck kick after 54 minutes.
Saracens though would cross for another try when replacement Ben Ransom (on for David Strettle who left the field due to a head-knock) finished off a superb team move in the left hand corner, after sumptuous handling from England pair George Kruis and Billy Vunipola in the build-up. Farrell failed to land a difficult conversion.
As the game wore on the Sharks responded well, enjoying a possession percentage of 84% in the aftermath of Sarries second try.
The home side continued to press, and it was their third try that would warm the cockles of the Saracens faithful on a cold wintery evening in north London.
Camped out in the own 22, Owen Farrell flung out a cut our pass to Alex Goode, and 19 passes later, Billy Vunipola would cross for a try in the right hand corner in what was a superb team move. Farrell landed a difficult conversion minutes before behemoth Eofin Lewis-Roberts crashed over to score a consolation try. Ford converted as the scores ended 28-15.