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Page last updated at 16:45 GMT, Sunday, 6 November 2011

Saracens 23-10 Sale Sharks

Saracens (10) 23
Tries: Strettle, Stevens Cons: Farrell 2 Pens: Farrell 3
Sale (0) 10
Tries: Miller, Easter

David Strettle of Saracens scores the opening try against Sale
David Strettle opened the scoring for Saracens after 20 minutes

Saracens closed the gap on Premiership leaders Harlequins to four points with a comfortable victory over Sale.

The hosts led 10-0 at the break thanks to David Strettle's try and Owen Farrell's conversion and penalty.

After the break they continued to press with Matthew Stevens crossing and Farrell adding another eight points.

Rob Miller and Mark Easter scored unconverted tries for the visitors in the final 10 minutes to ensure Sale did at least get on the scoreboard.

For Saracens, it was a seventh straight league win but Sale drop to fifth in the table after failing to pick up a bonus point.

There were familiar faces for both camps, with former Saracens rugby director Steve Diamond now Sale's executive director of sport and Saracens fly-half Charlie Hodgson facing his old side for the first time since leaving them after 10 years in the summer.

Hodgson's successor at Sale. Nick Macleod. missed a chance to open the scoring after four minutes when his penalty sailed wide.

Sale continued to push for a score and Hodgson's cover-tackle halted wing Will Addison's break up the right.

It looked as if the visitors would open the scoring, but it was Saracens who struck first when Neil de Kock passed to Hodgson and wing Strettle timed his run past the fly-half's shoulder to perfection, and he ran left to right and crossed to the right of the posts. Farrell kicked a difficult conversion to make it 7-0.

Farrell added another three points from a penalty to give them a 10-point lead at half-time.

Saracens increased their lead four minutes after the break, with Farrell this time kicking a 40-yard penalty and five minutes later he struck again after Andy Powell was caught offside.

Sale had a chance to open their scoring but Macleod missed a second kick. And Sarries made them pay for their wastefulness when Stevens was driven over despite a bank of Sharks defenders trying in vain to keep him out. And Farrell again converted to bring his tally for the game up to 13.

Sale finally got their first points when Miller crossed wide on the left from Tasea Lavea's pass. And they doubled their lead when Easter twisted and turned to touch down on the right-hand side but it was far too little far too later.


Saracens rugby director Mark McCall:

"We were clinical for an hour but less so in the final 20 minutes. I know people tend to refer to guys coming off the bench as a factor, but you must trust your players in terms of bringing people on and off. You cannot play guys for the full 80 minutes every game.

"Sale played well, forced us to produce very strong defence. People underestimate Sale, but they shouldn't because they are a fine team.

"They came and attacked us, but we have a very good record at Vicarage Road, one we are proud of. Teams find it difficult to beat us at home."

Sale executive director of sport Steve Diamond:

"I feel a sense of frustration because we allowed small errors to become big mistakes.

"Credit to Saracens who are street-wise in the way Leicester have been for years. They can slow your ball at the breakdown and we need to learn from this and become more street-wise ourselves.

"We need to focus on some basics, however. We got messed around at the breakdown and our lineout needs attention.

"Saracens have been up there for a couple of years now, a very well-drilled and well structured side. But we scored two tries in the final quarter when we undid that structure."


Saracens: Goode, Strettle, Farrell, Barritt, Wyles, Hodgson, de Kock, Carstens, Brits, Nieto, Borthwick, Botha, Brown, Burger, Joubert.

Replacements: Short for Goode (52), Powell for Farrell (63), Spencer for de Kock (60), Gill for Carstens (52), George for Brits (60), Stevens for Nieto (52), Smith for Botha (52), Saull for Joubert (71).

Sale: Miller, Addison, Leota, Tuitupou, Cueto, MacLeod, Cliff, Dickinson, Taylor, Thomas, McKenzie, Gaskell, Vernon, Seymour, Powell.

Replacements: Lavea for MacLeod (60), Willis for Cliff (60), Cobilas for Dickinson (60), Jones for Taylor (60), Buckley for Thomas (55), Myall for McKenzie (63), Easter for Powell (60).
Not Used: Brady.

Att: 6,012

Ref: Martin Fox (RFU).

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see also
Guscott's predictions
05 Nov 11 |  English
Sale 13-34 Leicester
28 Oct 11 |  Rugby Union
Gloucester 17-19 Saracens
29 Oct 11 |  Rugby Union

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