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Sale Sharks 21 Saracens 15 Sale Sharks 21 Saracens 15

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Sale Sharks 21 Saracens 15

Nathan Fowles came off the bench to score the decisive try for Sale Sharks as they booked an LV= Cup final place at the expense of Saracens at the Salford City Stadium, clinching a 21-15 victory.

Scrum-half Fowles, who has made three Aviva Premiership appearances this season, entered the fray as a second-half replacement for Cillian Willis and burrowed over with 13 minutes remaining to secure a date with Harlequins at Sixways next Sunday.

The LV= Cup has offered a relief for Sharks given their lowly standing in the Aviva Premiership standings, but their attacking intent was rewarded as Tom Holmes also crossed the whitewash and Danny Cipriani kicked 11 points.

Current Aviva Premiership league leaders Saracens had five Ben Spencer penalties to show for their efforts but will now turn their attentions to finishing their campaign strongly.

Sale started the game at a fierce tempo and took the first points of the afternoon with Cipriani’s routine penalty in front of the posts. 

But by the seventh minute the Sarries were in the lead after scrum-half Spencer slotted home short and long-range penalties in quick succession.

And Spencer continued to put points on the board with the boot, despite the blustery conditions, with a central long-range penalty in the 13th minute.

But the home side reduced the deficit in the 16th minute through Cirpiani’s penalty, after Willis was tackled by an offside George Kruis. 

The game continued to be marked by ill-discipline, with Andy Powell infringing in the ruck and Spencer slotting the subsequent penalty midway through the first half. 

The away side were putting heavy pressure on the Sale back-line and Kruis was inches away from the game’s first try, but the Sharks defence held firm.

But Sale responded with minutes remaining in the half with Tommy Taylor’s line-out throw finding Holmes who beat the last line of Saracens defence to dive over. 

Cipriani was unable to secure the conversion however and Saracens went in ahead with a slender lead at the break. 

Sale charged out of the blocks once more after the interval, with a flowing move orchestrated by Powell ending with winger Charlie Ingall being edged out into touch. 

And with Saracens kicking against the wind, Spencer was a victim of the conditions as his penalty spun wide in the 51st minute. 

The away side went close to scoring their first try but Ernst Joubert was penalised for holding onto the ball on the ground after a series of phases. 

And minutes later Sale were on the back foot once more, but winger James Short knocked-on ten metres short of the line. 

Saracens were rewarded for their endeavour in the 62nd minute with Spencer converting a 30-yard penalty after James Gaskell’s infringement at the ruck. 

But Sale went ahead in the 67th minute, switching play to the right from the penalty scrum, with Gaskell offloading to substitute Fowles to score in the corner, with Cipriani converting. 

Saracens were looking to hit Sale on the break through Jack Wilson, but the Kiwi was pushed into touch with a thumping Powell tackle. 

The Sharks went close once more but second-row Fraser McKenzie was penalised for holding on the ground after a promising move. 

But with three minutes left Cipriani settled the hosts’ nerves with a penalty and sent them within 80 minutes of silverware.

The LV= Cup Final, 3pm, Sunday 17 March, Sixways Stadium, Worcester. Tickets are on sale now from £20 each at Ticketmaster.co.uk or by calling 0844 844 0444. (Tickets will be on sale for 24 hours a day.)

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