Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Alex Lozowski takes centre stage as Saracens return to summit

Alex Lozowski guided a depleted Saracens side to a superb 28-13 triumph over Sale Sharks to move back to the top of the Aviva Premiership table.

Lozowski kicked 13 points and tries from Marcelo Bosch, Matt Gallagher and Ben Spencer paved the way for victory at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Josh Beaumont crossed for Sale's only try, which had sent them ahead in the first half, but they could only muster another eight points from fly-half AJ MacGinity's boot.

The last time Saracens visited Manchester they ended up 17-0 behind after just 16 minutes, but this time the champions came out on the front foot.

Mark McCall's men were also helped by Sale's indiscipline and an infringement allowed Lozowski to kick over an early penalty.

Since joining from Wasps in the summer, the fly-half has been hugely impressive and the England squad member showed another element to his repertoire, superbly chipping in behind the defence and recollecting.

With the hosts' rearguard in disarray Saracens should have scored, but the ball was knocked on and the Sharks managed to survive.

That profligacy was the confidence boost Steve Diamond's side needed and 10 minutes later they made their first significant incursion into opposition territory.

MacGinty made the break, handing off Lozowski and sprinting 30 metres, and although he was halted into touch by Paolo Odogwu, the pressure continued to mount and Sale eventually touched down via Beaumont's close-range effort.

Saracens responded and put together an excellent attack of their own which eventually resulted in Bosch going over.

It started on halfway as the Londoners showed outstanding patience to keep hold of possession and go through the phases.

The ubiquitous Schalk Burger was heavily involved throughout, carrying and off-loading several times during the move, before Schalk Brits supplied the scoring pass to the Argentine centre.

The visiting pivot converted and also added a penalty on the stroke of half-time as Saracens went into the break 13-7 ahead.

That buffer soon increased in the second period as the Sharks effectively gifted the visitors a try. A botched lineout landed in the grateful arms of Brits and the hooker scampered clear.

It still had to be finished but, with most of the hosts' backline committed up field, simple hands by Lozowski and Brad Barritt sent Gallagher across the whitewash.

The respective kickers then traded three-pointers before Halani Aulika was yellow carded for Sale after stupidly aiming a punch at Jim Hamilton.

To their credit, the Manchester outfit handled the sin-bin period well and even reduced the arrears via the boot of MacGinty.

They were handed a further boost when Michael Rhodes was sin-binned for a high tackle, but they could not take advantage and Saracens completed the win with seven minutes remaining.

Once again, Lozowski was the catalyst after he brilliantly weaved his way past several defenders and off-loaded to Spencer.

The scrum-half had plenty to do but he finished with aplomb, displaying searing pace to score.


From Belfast Telegraph