Saracens see off 14-man Sale

Vincent Koch, Sean Maitland and Max Malins all crossed for tries in Saracens’ win, with Billy Vunipola making a key contribution on his return from injury; Sale replied through Ben Curry and Raffi Quirke, but had Byron McGuigan sent off in the second half

Last Updated: 28/11/21 5:27pm

Max Malins finishes for Saracens’ third try

Billy Vunipola celebrated his comeback from injury by creating the try that broke Sale Sharks’ resistance in a 25-14 Gallagher Premiership victory for Saracens at StoneX Stadium.

Leading 13-0 against the run of play, the five-time English champions took swift advantage of the dismissal of Byron McGuigan to score through Sean Maitland in the right corner.

But the try was all about Vunipola’s attacking skills as the bulldozing No 8 showed no ill-effects from the knee injury that has kept him out for four weeks by dummying through midfield and sending Maitland over with a long, floated pass

That will do very nicely ?

SOLID.#StrongerTogether ??

— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens)

November 28, 2021

At 18-0 down there was no way back for Sale, who had to play the last 35 minutes with 14 men after McGuigan combusted amid minor provocation from Nick Tompkins, striking the Wales centre from behind and then throwing him to the floor.

The Sharks showed commitment to stay in the game and were rewarded with tries by Ben Curry and Raffi Quirke, but there was no way back against opponents who were magnificent in defence.

Saracens climbed to second in the table and it looked ominous when they built a 10-point lead in the first quarter with Vincent Koch finishing a line-out drive and Alex Lozowski landing the conversion and a penalty.

Vincent Koch forces his way over for Saracens’ first try

But Sale were also their own worst enemy as AJ MacGinty kicked out on the full and Quirke spilt forwards a simple catch just outside his 22, inviting pressure on to the Sharks.

Although trailing on the scoreboard, they continued to control possession and territory as they attacked with purpose and at speed.

Once again, however, they shot themselves in the foot as a short-range scrum ended in a penalty awarded against them and then another 10 metres were conceded for backchat to referee Thomas Foley.

Maro Itoje is tackled by Sale’s Akker van der Merwe

MacGinty was denied Sale’s opening points by the woodwork but the one-way traffic continued with Saracens unable to escape their half, although a dummy and run from Vunipola did eventually get them moving forwards.

It proved to be the launchpad for another sucker punch as Saracens moved downfield and forced a penalty which Lozowski sent between the uprights.

Sale lost captain Jono Ross to a failed head injury assessment, ushering Tom Curry on the pitch, and the second half began with the Sharks camped on the home whitewash in their most threatening period in the match. But the attack came to a violent halt when McGuigan lost his head and was shown a red card.

Raffi Quirke was among the tryscorers for Sale

It took only four minutes for Saracens to take advantage of McGuigan’s absence as Vunipola showed his vision to create a hole in midfield and then send Maitland strolling over.

The home defence had been watertight but a loss of concentration in the 62nd minute allowed Ben Curry to dart over from five metres out and the score revitalised the 2006 champions.

A knock-on ended their next attack and once wing Rotimi Segun had placed Saracens back on to the front foot, Alex Goode produced a clever pass to send Max Malins over. Quirke then replied for Sale, but their fightback had already been extinguished.

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