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Match reaction: Sale Sharks 29 Saracens 22

Match reaction: Sale Sharks 29 Saracens 22

Saracens displayed an uncharacteristic lack of ruthlessness for the second week on the bounce in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, after Sale Sharks came from behind to win 29-22 on Friday.

The visitors led 19-13 at the interval at the AJ Bell Stadium, with Will Skelton crossing the whitewash and fly-half Max Malins kicking a flawless four penalties and a conversion in the first 40 minutes.

But Sale were still in the contest courtesy of Ben Curry’s 33rd-minute score, and despite another Malins three-pointer early in the second half, AJ MacGinty and Will Cliff both did the business from the tee also for the hosts.

And the Sharks then piled on the pressure which paid dividends as Alexandru Tarus and Mike Haley scored either side of the hour mark to earn them a narrow win.

That result put Sale top of Pool 2 in the Anglo-Welsh Cup having won both of their opening matches, although rivals Exeter Chiefs, Harlequins and Dragons were all still to play.


Malins was metronomic with the boot, while Sarries full-back Matt Gallagher also produced a superb individual performance that was ultimately in vain – looking accomplished throughout under the high ball.

But giant Australian forward Will Skelton was constantly a thorn in the Sharks’ side. Now in his second spell with Saracens, the 22-stone lock powered over from close range to cap an impressive performance, despite his side’s defeat.


Haley’s try was not only the one that sealed the result for the hosts, but it was also a superb score in its own right.

He finished off a sweeping move started by the Sharks in-form wing Byron McGuigan, who grubbered through to cause havoc in the Sarries backfield and find the Sale full-back who gratefully snaffled a try and celebrated in style with a ‘fins up’ gesture.


Saracens skipper Ben Earl said: “We learned a lot of lessons in that game. We actually played I thought pretty well and the rub of the green just wasn’t with us today.

“But we’ll regather and see where we can go next week. We’ve had a hell of a couple of weeks – unfortunately we haven’t got the results we wanted but the performances have shown the potential of this side.

“It’s been a great honour [to captain the team] and massive thanks to all the boys as they’ve helped me so much. Now we’ve got to consolidate and help the other lads prepare for the next few weeks.”

Saracens Academy coach Adam Powell added: “I thought first half we did a lot of good things but probably should have picked the corners a bit more.

“But second half we gave big momentum to Sale with three penalties on the spin and they capitalised on that. We lost it a little bit in the lineout, which meant that when we did get field position we couldn’t capitalise on it.

“We let it slip away a little bit from us; it felt a lot like last week and we’ve got to work on our game management and managing our energy within the group. We’ve got to improve.”


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