With twenty minutes left, the home side had grasped the lead but quickly fell to a try from England winger Ashton. Despite sterling efforts, they couldn't repeat their earlier revival.
The scoring in a tense first half was entirely penalties - three to Cipriani, four from one of his predecessors, Hodgson.
The Sale number ten put the Sharks ahead after three minutes but Hodgson replied with four strikes within a fifteen minute spell as the penalty count against the home side mounted. In between, play was stopped when Addison required urgent treatment. He recovered to provide Sale Sharks' 'Moment of the Match'.
Hodgson featured in a 25th minute escape for the Sharks, when he charged down a Cipriani kick but was caught by his opposite number Cipriani who reduced the 12-3 deficit on 32 minutes following a block by Barritt on Tuitupou.
The final ten minutes of the first half saw Sharks much more in the game, with Addison and Vernon speeding up the wing to pressure Wyles. Penalties started to be awarded the Sharks' way, Cipriani sending two between the posts after 32 and 40 minutes for a 9-12 interval scoreline.
Three minutes into the second half, Saracens were attacking strongly down the left and looking likely to score until Addison intercepted. Roared on by the majority of the 7,451 crowd, he sprinted the length of the pitch and cut in to under the posts, allowing Cipriani the conversion to put the Sharks 16-12 up.
Addison was back in action four minutes later after sublime handling from Cipriani had brought the onrushing Miller into play. One Cumbrian youngster passed to another, but there was no chance of a second try.
Wyles and Barritt attacked in reply, Sharks infringing to allow Hodgson to narrow the gap to one point on 59 minutes. Sixty seconds later, the ball was whipped along right for Ashton to score, without a trademark 'Splash' dive - there wasn't enough room.
Hodgson hit the post with the wide conversion attempt but atoned on 68 minutes with his sixth penalty of the game.Free kicks and scrum collapses, together with two 'missed' knockons had the home crowd in a frenzy, but the home side went for the jugular with two minutes left, sending the ball along the line and forcing Saracens to defend. A knock on with 16 seconds left extinguished hope of an equaliser, but a 'losing bonus point' it was for Sale Sharks on their competitive debut at their new home, against a side who are clearly going to again be among the front runners in the Aviva Premiership.
Scoring: (Sharks first) 3-0, 3-3, 3-6, 3-9, 3-12, 6-12, 9-12 (Half Time) 16-12, 16-15, 16-20, 16-23
Scorers: Try - Addison, Con - Cipriani, Pens - Cipriani (3)
Squad: 15.Rob Miller, 14.Will Addison, 13.Johnny Leota, 12.Sam Tuitupou, 11.Mark Cueto, 10.Danny Cipriani, 9.Dwayne Peel, 1.Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 2.Joe Ward, 3.Vadim Cobilas, 4.Richie Gray, 5.Kearnan Myall, 6.James Gaskell, 7.David Seymour (capt.), 8.Richie Vernon
Replacements: 16: Tommy Taylor (not used), 17.Alasdair Dickinson for Lewis-Roberts (61), 18.Henry Thomas for Cobilas (68), 19.Fraser McKenzie (not used), 20.James Doyle (not used), 21.Will Cliff for Peel (73), 22.Nick Macleod for Cipriani (61), 23. Corne Uys for Tuitupou (59)
|Sale Sharks Score Card|
|Saracens Score Card|