Saracens back on top spot

Date published: November 20 2016

Saracens moved back to the top of the Premiership standings on Sunday as they saw off Sale Sharks, winning 28-13 at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Josh Beaumont scored the opening try on 22 minutes but Sale went in behind after Marcelo Bosch crossed for the hosts.

Matt Gallagher increased the advantage three minutes after half-time, and Ben Spencer sealed the win late on with a superb try.

With both sides coming into this with bright Premiership spells behind them (Saracens had lost only one game in 14), confidence was high for all in Salford.

Alex Lozowski’s early penalty put Saracens into a three point lead after five minutes, almost following that with a try after a delightful chip and chase over the top saw him hauled down yards from the line.

The Sarries kicker was having an inspired opening and after almost scoring the opening try, he stopped Sale from getting it, bundling Paolo Udogwu into touch as the hosts stepped up the pressure.

Sale were able to grab the first try on 22 minutes though. A line-out in the corner saw the hosts push their way just over the line, with captain Beaumont credited with the try. AJ MacGinty followed it with the conversion.

Saracens weren’t behind for long though, a mere five minutes in fact. Bosch received the ball from Schalk Brits and crossed over, Lozowski’s extras taking the lead back to three points.

MacGinty could have levelled before the break but saw a penalty go wide, and the impressive Lozowski finished the half with another three points to send Saracens in 13-7 up.

Chances of a surprise home win started to disappear three minutes after the restart as Gallagher got the visitors second try. Brits again was involved, stealing possession before Lozowski and Brad Barritt played their part in allowing the replacement to go through only minutes after taking to the field. The conversion didn’t follow, but Sale had a tough task to come back from an 11 point gap.

MacGinty reduced the arrears with a penalty but Lozowski again eradicated that with another three points.

The hosts continued to press and were unlucky not to level the try scoring, a catch and drive defended strongly by Saracens. Halani Aulika didn’t help any chance of a turnaround after striking Jim Hamilton, leaving his team-mates a man short for 10 minutes.

Sale’s MacGinty kept hopes alive with another penalty whilst down to 14, and even though the visitors lost Michael Rhodes to a yellow, a solo try from Spencer wrapped up the victory. Lozowski, who was at the heart of everything good that Saracens did, showed the awareness to see the ball to Spencer. He channelled his inner Usain Bolt as he countered with a remarkable turn of pace and stormed away from the Sale defence to seal victory.

Lozowski put through the two for good measure, and Saracens made it one defeat in 15 as Sale lost their first game since Round Six.

The scorers:

For Sale:
Try: Beaumont
Con: MacGinty
Pens: MacGinty 2
Yellow Card: Aulika (59 min)

For Saracens:
Tries: Bosch, Gallagher, Spencer
Cons: Lozowski 2
Pens: Lozowski 3
Yellow Card: Rhodes (67 min)

Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Will Addison, 13 Sam James, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Paolo Odogwu, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Josh Beaumont (c), 7 David Seymour, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 James Flynn, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 TJ Ioane, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Mark Jennings, 23 Tom Arscott

Saracens: 15 Andrew Fenby, 14 Mike Ellery, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Brad Barritt (c), 11 Chris Wyles, 10 Alex Lozowski, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Jackson Wray, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Mike Rhodes, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Richard Barrington
Replacements: 16 Scott Spurling, 17 Titi Lamositele, 18 Petrus Du Plessis, 19 Mark Flanagan, 20 Joel Conlon, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Nick Tompkins, 23 Matt Gallagher

Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant Referees: Ross Campbell, Jack Makepeace
TMO: David Sainsbury