Sarries stun Sharks
Saracens ended a three-game losing streak by holding off a strong Sale comeback to win 24-20 at Vicarage Road.
Last Updated: 09/03/08 6:00pm
Saracens ended a three-game losing streak by holding off a strong Sale comeback to win 24-20 and keep their Guinness Premiership play-off hopes alive.
Sarries flew into a 21-0 lead at Vicarage Road but had to survive a second half comeback from the Sharks to eventually win by four and go level with their opponents in the Premiership table.
The forwards did the early damage for Saracens with Ben Skirving and Cencus Johnston going over for first-half tries for the home side.
Fly-half Glen Jackson moved to the top of the Premiership scoring chart with a 14-point contribution as he went on to 134 for the season, ten in front of Charlie Hodgson who was missing for Sale on England duty.
Sebastien Chabal and Oriol Ripol replied for Sale and former New Zealand international Luke McAlister kicked two conversions and two penalties but in the end it was not enough.
All the damage was done early as the hosts built-up a 21-0 lead, with Jackson opening the scoring on 11 minutes with a penalty after Ripol fluffed a great chance for Sale in the opening three minutes.
Number eight Skirving then raced 45 metres to grab the opening try of the match when he gathered the loose ball from Julien Laharrague's fumble.
Jackson added two more penalties and then converted Johnston's try - as the Samoan prop scored a winger's try by side-stepping in off the right touchline and thundering over the line.
Sale finally got off the mark a minute before the break when Frenchman Chabal muscled his way across the line from close range, and the conversion made it 21-7 at the break.
As Sale moved up a gear in the second half, McAllister kicked two penalties to reduce the deficit to 21-13, but Jackson's fourth penalty gave the hosts some breathing space.
Saracens full-back Richard Haughton made a last-ditch tackle on McAlister to stop a certain Sale try as the visitors continued to press forward.
McAllister did set up a Sale try when his kick enabled Spanish winger Ripol to touch down and the conversion brought it back to a four-point lead and ensured a nervous last few minutes.
Saracens just had enough points on the board though and they were able to hang on to seal a welcome victory that keeps alive their play-off ambitions.