Charlie Hodgson’s boot made sure Saracens maintained their unbeaten start to the Aviva Premiership Rugby season as they returned to the summit with victory over Sale Sharks at Allianz Park.
Fly-half Hodgson kicked 16 points while a penalty try plus scores from Alex Goode, Ernst Joubert and Richard Barrington secured a bonus-point win.
Sale managed three scores of their own, through a penalty try, David Seymour and Tom Brady, but came away with nothing as they were dominated at the set-piece in north London.
Goode opened the scoring within two minutes as he expertly evaded two Sale tackles, bursting through their defence and diving over to score between the uprights in a great solo effort.
Hodgson added a simple conversion before taking Saracens 10-0 into the lead with a penalty from a very similar position, in front of the posts.
But Sale hit back, setting a powerful maul from the lineout and bundling their way over after a 20 metre drive, former Saracen Seymour touching down and Danny Cipriani adding the extras.
This seemed to light the touch-paper for Saracens, however, as Hodgson successfully converted two long-range penalties before South African Joubert crossed in the corner, after a quick passing move, to send the London side into a commanding 16-point lead.
Saracens were not finished there and on the stroke of half-time the pack forced Sale off their own ball, forcing a penalty try – Hodgson added the conversion for a 30-7 half-time lead.
After a scrappy opening to the second half Brady dotted down for Sale’s second try of the match, poking the ball past Chris Ashton with his right foot on the half volley before re-gathering to score on the right wing.
Full-back Goode was sent to the sin bin for a breakdown infringement but Sale were not able to capitalise on the extra man, substitute prop Barrington wriggling through their defence to seal the bonus point at the other end of the pitch.
Sale were not about to give up there though as they forced a penalty try a couple of minutes later, with second row George Kruis bringing down the rampaging, rolling maul and being sent to the sin bin for ten minutes as a result.
The numbers were evened up after Saracens’ next attack as Sale captain Seymour was yellow carded at a ruck and Goode, in the absence of an injured Hodgson, slotted the simple penalty, which saw the home side to a 40-19 victory.