Sale down Saracens for top four spot
PREMIERSHIP MATCH REPORT: Robert Du Preez kicked 14 points to help power Sale Sharks into the Premiership Rugby top four with a victory over Saracens.
Saracens had taken an early lead when the returning Billy Vunipola crossed but tries from Sam James and Denny Solomona allowed Sale to overturn the early deficit.
Reliable kicking from Du Preez took the game away from Sarries despite Nick Tompkins’ late score, meaning Sale are now undefeated in five.
The match started at breakneck pace and soon had its first try as a wonderful passing move by Saracens saw Alex Lozowski almost make it to the line, with Vunipola cutting in from out wide to barge over for the score.
The hosts were up for the challenge though and scored a beauty of their own on 15 minutes, James first breaking down the left to gain territory and later finishing off a move down the right – receiving an inside ball from Solomona.
The England wing would soon get in on the action himself, a superb planned move seeing Solomona scythe through the Saracens half before stepping his way to the corner.
Owen Farrell saw yellow before the break and at the interval, Sale led 18-13, with the score remaining the same for the third quarter until Christopher Tolufua also received time in the bin.
Du Preez kicked Sale 21-13 ahead minutes later and try as they might Saracens couldn’t find a way back, with Du Preez kicking his fourth penalty before Tompkins bundled over at the death.
For Sale Sharks:
Tries: James, Solomona
Con: Du Preez
Pens: Du Preez 4
Tries: Vunipola, Tompkins
Pens: Farrell 2
Yellow cards: Owen Farrel (Saracens, 35), Christopher Tolofua (Saracens, 60)
Sale: 15 Chris Ashton, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 James O’Connor, 12 Sam James, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Jono Ross (captain), 5 James Phillips, 4 Josh Beaumont, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Curtis Langdon, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Joe Jones, 19 Bryn Evans, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Luke James, 23 Arron Reed
Saracens: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Alex Lozowski, 11 David Strettle, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Nick Isiekwe, 5 George Kruis, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Tom Woolstencroft, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Richard Barrington, 18 Titi Lamositele, 19 Calum Clark, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Marcelo Bosch, 23 Sean Maitland
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Christophe Ridley & Greg Macdonald.
TMO: David Grashoff.
Scintillating rugby, and the AJ Bell side are up to FOURTH! 4⃣
Who was your Man of the Match? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/g6K9olhPoF
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) January 4, 2019