Five penalties from fly-half Charlie Hodgson proved enough for Saracens to claim a 15-10 win over Sale at AJ Bell Stadium on Friday.
Five penalties from fly-half Charlie Hodgson proved enough for Saracens to claim a 15-10 win over Sale Sharks at AJ Bell Stadium on Friday.
Hodgson's five penalties were enough to cancel out a Marc Jones try, as Saracens nearly suffered a second shock defeat in two weeks.
Sale had the chance to move into the Premiership's top four, but were denied by a solid Sarries outfit.
Both sides had their moments early on, with Hodgson and Danny Cipriani trading early penalties in a tight encounter.
Duncan Taylor came closest, but chose to offload despite the try line being at his mercy. Saracens knocked on the door several times throughout the half, but were continually knocked back by a stoic Sale defence.
Steve Diamond's men not only soaked up the pressure against them, they also took the lead. Sharks' driving maul has been a key factor in recent victories, and proved so again as Jones was on hand to touch down as Sale rumbled over the line.
Mark McCall's men went down the tunnel with a seven point gap to bridge.
Taylor went close again at the start of the second half, but was held up over the line. That close call was as close as Saracens came in an eight minute spell of dominance.
Hodgson kept Sarries in touch with a penalty, as the visitors played into the wind for the second half.
He was on hand a few minutes after to cut the gap to one. Sale's seven point lead was gone not long after, with Hodgson's third successful kick in a row giving Saracens a 12-10 lead.
Nick Macleod was agonisingly close to clinching a Sale victory, but his penalty sailed inches wide. Hodgson sealed the win with a minute to go, as Saracens headed home with four points.
Pens: Hodgson 5
Sale: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Thomas Brady, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 James Gaskell, 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Andrei Ostrikov, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Eifion Lewis-Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Johnathan Mills, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Tom Arscott.
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Duncan Taylor, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Jacques Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 George Kruis, 4 Steve Borthwick, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 James Johnston, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Ernst Joubert, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Joel Tomkins, 23 Chris Wyles.
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Referee: Gregory Garner
Assistant referees: Stuart Terheege, Paul Dix
Television match official: David Sainsbury