Sale Sharks were playing a competitive game for the first time ever on a 4G surface and had trained on the pitch the day before the game. Sharks did play a friendly at Cardiff pre season on a similar surface. Steve Diamond made several changes following the win over Worcester Warriors and gave Charlie Ingall his first Premiership start following several impressive performances in the Jets. Charlie's first team debut was in January against Scarlets in the LV=Cup when he scored a debut try. He also played in the final against Harlequins at Sixways.
Saracens kicked off towards the North Stand and were soon building pressure. Michael Paterson conceded a penalty after only 90 seconds and ex Sharks star Charlie Hodgson put the first points on the board. 0-3.
Sale hit back and built up pressure of their own with Mark Jennings and James Gaskell both making valuable metres. Sale won a penalty of their own on 8 minutes when George Kuris caught Dwayne Peel late. Peel needed lengthy treatment before resuming. Sharks opted to kick for touch and although they took the line out near Saracens line, the home side cleared the danger.
On 11 minutes Mark Jennings and Charlie Ingall forced an error from Saracens and Danny Cipriani gathered the loose ball to run in a try. Referee JP Doyle went to the TMO for clarification. TRY was the decision and Cipriani converted his own try 7-3 to Sale Sharks.
The downside was that Peel was replaced by Will Cliff after failing to recover from his collision, and this was quickly followed by Tom Brady replacing Will Addison who looked as though he had injured his back.
On 15 minutes the Saracens scrum won a penalty and Charlie Hodgson opted to kick for goal but his attempt sailed wide.
Saracens started to apply more and more pressure and on 23 minutes Charlie Hodgson charged down a Rob Miller clearance. From the 5 metre scrum Sharks defended for their lives and won a penalty which Cipriani put into touch. Skipper Dan Braid was injured in winning the penalty but recovered after treatment.
Players were getting injured all over the field and Saracens Flanker Will Fraser had to leave the field on a stretcher and 32 minutes.
Three minutes later Charlie Hodgson put up a high kick which Danny Cipriani knocked on. Saracens seized the loose ball and won a penalty which Hodgson kicked 7-6 to Sale.
Seconds later Sale were awarded a penalty 15 metres in their own half. Rob Miller took off his scrum cap and booted a huge penalty to put Sharks 10-6 in front.
On the stroke of Half Time Danny Cipriani landed a 30 metre drop goal to silence the home crowd 13-6.
Half Time Saracens 6 Sale Sharks 13
Sarries as to be expected came straight out of the blocks and were rewarded on 44 minutes when debutant Jack Wilson scored in the corner after several phases had drawn Sale Sharks players into defending creating an overlap. Hodgson's conversion was off target but Sharks lead was down to 13-11.
Sharks hit back and won a penalty on 47 minutes which Cipriani kicked and became the first Shark to kick a conversion,drop goal, penalty and score a try in the same game since Charlie Hodgson back in 2002 16-11
Sharks thought they had scored another try on 50 minutes through Charlie Ingall but the TMO ruled out the try for reasons better known to himself.
Saracens marshalled by Hodgson started making inroads into Sharks territory and were awarded a penalty on 59 minutes which Hodgson himself kicked 16-14. Sale felt the wrath of JP Doyle's decisions two minutes later when he awarded the home side another penalty. Again Hodgson opted to kick but missed the target. Sadly the irritating DJ persisted on playing sound bites at regular intervals trying to motivate the crowd.
The Sale defence was coming under intense pressure as Saracens strived to score a try but to their credit held firm. After relentless pressure the dam was breached on 72 minutes when Kruise crashed over in the corner 16-19. Hodgson converted 16-21.
Hodgson put the home side 8 points in the lead on 79 minutes with a 35 metre penalty. There was still time for Nick Macleod to secure a losing bonus point with a 40 metre penalty of his own to give a final score
Full Time Saracens 24 Sale Sharks 19
Sale: Rob Miller, Charlie Ingall, Mark Jennings, Johnny Leota, Will Addison (off 15mins), Danny Cipriani (off 75 mins), Dwayne Peel (off 12mins), Ross Harrison, Tommy Taylor (off 62mins), Vadim Cobilas, Andrei Ostrikov (off 62mins), Michael Paterson, Dan Braid (off 62mins), David Seymour, James Gaskell
Replacements: Marc Jones (on for Taylor 62mins), James Flynn, Tony Buckley, Jonathan Mills (on for Ostrikov 62mins), Mark Easter (on for Braid 62mins), Will Cliff (on for Peel 12mins), Nick Macleod (on for Cipriani 75mins), Tom Brady (on for Addison 15mins)
Scoring Sequence (Sarries first): 3-0, 3-5, 3-7, 6-7, 6-10, 6-13 (Half Time) 11-13,11-16, 14-16, 19-16, 21-16, 24-16, 24-19
|Saracens Score Card|
|Sale Sharks Score Card|