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Kruis leaves Saracens in control

George Kruis crashed over to score the match-winning try for Saracens as the Aviva Premiership leaders left it late to beat Sale.

Saracens had to battle every inch of the way for the 24-19 victory over Sale, orchestrated by a virtuoso performance from England reject Danny Cipriani.

The fly-half showed his class by scoring Sale's try, a conversion, immaculately-struck drop goal and a penalty in an excellent all-round performance.

Full-back Rob Miller contributed a long-range penalty and Cipriani's late replacement Nick Macleod secured Sale's losing bonus point - the very least they deserved - with his last-kick penalty.

Saracens' other try came from right-wing Jack Wilson with number 10 Charlie Hodgson contributing 14 points with a conversion and four penalties.

Hodgson's opener, from 40 metres, gave Saracens a second-minute lead after Sale were caught offside.

Cipriani showed his handling skills, retrieving a poor pass from the floor, to create a break for centre Mark Jennings but the Sharks turned over possession.

Sale's opening try came after Kruis dropped a pass on his own 22. Sharks winger Charlie Ingall snapped the ball up to send Cipriani on a clear run to the line before adding the conversion.

Sale suffered two injury blows in the opening 15 minutes, with, former Wales scrum-half Dwayne Peel and left-wing Will Addison replaced by Will Cliff and Tom Brady.

Hodgson missed a long-range penalty for Saracens and Sale had another escape as the ball bounced into touch after Sarries centre Chris Wyles charged down Cliff's attempted clearance kick.

Another charge down, by Hodgson on Miller's kick ended with Cliff being tackled behind his own line but Saracens infringed at the breakdown following their five-metre scrum.

Saracens' England Saxons flanker Will Fraser, carried off on a stretcher with a serious-looking leg injury, was replaced by Scotland skipper Kelly Brown.

Cipriani, so-far excellent, fumbled a high kick and, following several attacking phases by the home side, Hodgson kicked his second penalty four minutes before half-time.

But, a minute later, long-range kicking specialist Miller restored the four-point gap with a huge penalty from six metres inside his own half.

Cipriani made it 13-6 on the stroke of half-time, taking a poor pass under pressure before unleashing a superb left-foot drop goal from 35 metres.

Wilson marked his Premiership debut for Saracens with his try five minutes into the second half but Hodgson, who had supplied the final pass after a succession of forward drives, missed the conversion.

Sale responded with a 20-metre penalty from Cipriani before having a try disallowed after Ingall crossed in the right hand corner only for referee JP Doyle to consult the television match official and bring play back for a blatant knock-on he had missed in the build-up.

Hodgson reduced the deficit to two points again after Sale went offside in front of their own posts.

Hodgson missed a 62nd-minute penalty opportunity to put Saracens ahead for the first time and then twice passed up kicking opportunities to go for touch inside the Sale 22.

The tactics produced a relentless spell of pressure from the leaders which was finally rewarded when Kruis forced his way over in the left corner six minutes from time, with Hodgson converting from the touchline and adding his fourth penalty before Macleod salvaged a point for Sale.


From Belfast Telegraph