Saracens see off Sale to move to top of Premiership
Faf de Klerk provided the Sharks’ response in the opening period but they continued to struggle after the interval.
Saracens moved to the top of the Aviva Premiership table following a 13-3 triumph over Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium.
The Londoners controlled the majority of the first half and moved 10-3 ahead thanks to Liam Williams’ converted try and Ben Spencer’s penalty.
Faf de Klerk provided the Sharks’ response in the opening period but the hosts continued to struggle after the interval.
Although the home side created a few opportunities, Sarries were the better team and sealed the win through Spencer, who kicked the only points of the second 40 minutes.
Full Time | It's been a very close encounter this evening but Sarries come away with a 3-13 win thanks to a Liam Williams try plus the boot of Ben Spencer pic.twitter.com/fiylnn540j— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) February 16, 2018
Steve Diamond’s men have enjoyed a fine run of form recently and had the first opportunity though Denny Solomona but they were eventually suffocated by the Saracens defence.
Sarries duly took over and dominated the next 20 minutes. They were unrelenting and – although the Sharks initially withstood a 30-phase attack – their rearguard was eventually breached.
Good hands opened the space and Wales international Williams cut inside and scampered across the whitewash for the first try of the game.
Spencer added the conversion and had a chance to extend that advantage soon after but the scrum-half was unfortunate to see his penalty attempt hit the underside of the bar.
Sale were struggling for possession and territory, but they made a significant incursion when Josh Strauss broke through the middle. Although the move was halted, the Greater Manchester outfit were awarded a penalty and De Klerk converted to reduce the arrears.
Rob Webber and Williams were also shown the yellow card in the scuffle that followed the initial infringement as both teams had to contend with being a man short.
It was Saracens who dealt better with the setback, however, and ended the half on the front foot. They benefited from the home team being down to seven in the scrum, taking play inside the opposition 22, and Spencer kicked a further three points off the tee.
Mark McCall’s men maintained their control on the encounter in the second period and threatened via Chris Wyles’ break and Alex Lozowski’s chargedown.
Action Shot | Schalk Burger on the attack this evening pic.twitter.com/Sva4MLnBEE— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) February 16, 2018
Although it did not yield a try, they were rewarded for their efforts by Spencer, who added a second three-pointer after 51 minutes.
To the Sharks’ credit, they did create opportunities, with a fine set-piece move allowing Marland Yarde to break the line, but Sarries’ cover defence was outstanding.
It meant that the hosts struggled to gain a foothold and the visitors secured a relatively-comfortable victory.