Saracens made it back-to-back wins to kick-off the new season as they overcame Sale 23-16 at Salford City Stadium on Saturday.
Saracens made it back-to-back wins to kick-off their season as they overcame Sale 23-16 at Salford City Stadium.
Sale's marquee signing, Danny Cipriani, got the scoreboard up and running in the third minute with the first of three first-half penalties, but he was outdone by former club favourite, Charlie Hodgson, who landed four kicks of his own to hand Saracens a 12-9 interval lead.
Try scoring opportunities had been few and far between but Sarries should have scored midway through the half after a Cipriani clearance had been charged down by his opposite number.
Cipriani chased back to collar the Premiership's record points-scorer and was mightily relieved to see Brad Barritt spill the recycled ball in the act of crossing the line.
Saracens started the second half the better of the two sides, wave after wave of attacks testing a Sale defence that had proved so brittle at Exeter.
But the Sharks' rearguard held firm and they were rewarded when Will Addison latched onto a Chris Wyles pass, intended for Alex Goode, to race home from 80 metres. Cipriani kicked the conversion to take his personal points tally into double figures in front of watching England coaches, Stuart Lancaster and Andy Farrell.
Cipriani, though, was at fault for Saracens' solitary try when Goode easily fended him off before putting Chris Ashton in at the right corner. Hodgson's conversion attempt hit the upright but his sixth penalty effectively settled the contest.
Pen: Cipriani 3
Pen: Hodgson 6
Sale: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Will Addison, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Richie Vernon, 7 David Seymour (capt), 6 James Gaskell, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Joe Ward, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Corne Uys.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Joel Tomkins, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Will Fraser, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Mouritz Botha, 4 Steve Borthwick (capt), 3 Petrus du Plessis, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Jared Saunders, 18 Carlos Nieto, 19 Alistair Hargreaves, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Neil de Kock, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 James Short.
Referee: David Pearson
Assistant referees: Martin Fox, Robin Goodliffe