Mark McCall’s Saracens moved to the summit of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table as they won a tight contest against Sale Sharks thanks to an opportunist try from Liam Williams.
Despite missing an avalanche of players through injury and international call ups, Saracens dug deep in an arm wrestle of an encounter at Sale.
Welsh international winger Williams produced a moment of magic early on, taking advantage of a slip from Marland Yarde to cut a penetrative line to score after 12 minutes.
Ben Spencer – kicking in the absence of England’s Owen Farrell – added the extras but he was unable to extend Sarries lead on 20 minutes as he missed his penalty attempt.
Sale enjoyed plenty of possession in the first half and created opportunities almost at will, with scrum-half Faf de Klerk pulling the strings for the Sharks in attack.
The game boiled over on 31 minutes and Sale’s Rob Webber and Sarries’ Williams were both sent to the sin bin after a coming together.
Sale were awarded the subsequent penalty for the infringement by Williams and de Klerk nailed his kick at goal to make the score 7-3.
It got better for Sarries on the stroke of half-time as Spencer stretched the visitors lead to 10-3 with a penalty from in front of the posts.
Alex Lozowski thought he had scored on 46 minutes for Sarries but, with the try line at his mercy, the England international was unable to gather the ball.
On 50 minutes de Klerk was penalised at the breakdown, allowing Spencer to further extend Saracens’ lead with a simple penalty.
Sale continued to dominant territory and possession in the final 30 minutes but Saracens’ defence held firm under heavy pressure from the home side.