European Rugby Champions Cup: Saracens 50-3 Sale Sharks
|European Rugby Champions Cup Pool Three|
|Saracens (26) 50|
|Tries: Bosch, Maitland 2, George, Wyles, Barrington Cons: Farrell 2, Lozowski 2 Pens: Farrell 3, Bosch|
|Sale (3) 3|
Saracens continued their impressive defence of the European Champions Cup as they thrashed Sale at Allianz Park.
Marcelo Bosch and Sean Maitland crossed as the hosts moved into a 23-point lead at the interval before scores from Jamie George and Chris Wyles secured the try bonus point.
Sale had three players sent to the sin bin as Maitland completed his double and Richard Barrington touched down.
Victory makes it three wins from three for Saracens as they top Pool Three.
The hosts also had three tries ruled out by the TMO as Sale were condemned to a third straight defeat in this season's competition.
Saracens are now just one victory short of equalling Munster's record of 13 successive European wins set between 2005 and 2007.
The evolution of Saracens
While the emerge of Saracens as a force domestically was originally built on their 'wolf pack' defence, the current European champions' performance here epitomised how they have become a dominant all-round team.
Marshalled by the standout lock Maro Itoje, the hosts' set piece was almost faultless all evening, while the backs' handling was largely unaffected by the damp conditions and scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth showed great precision kicking from hand.
It was Wigglesworth who sparked Saracens' first try - bursting through a gap to find Bosch on his shoulder - before Owen Farrell rolled in behind a decoy runner to collect Brad Barritt's pass and feed Maitland for a simple finish.
Saracens' creativity was perhaps more evident in two tries they had ruled out.
Schalk Burger and Wyles showed their football skills to set up Wigglesworth, only for the scrum-half to be denied by Josh Charnley's try-saving tackle, and Alex Goode then strayed needlessly offside in collecting Farrell's deft reverse kick.
Mark McCall's side were comfortable enough to remove returning England international Farrell for Alex Lozowski at fly-half a minute after the restart but they lost none of their intensity.
Jamie George dotted down from a rolling maul - potentially advancing his claims for an England starting berth should Dylan Hartley be handed a lengthy ban following his red card on Friday.
They were even able to use the same move that led to Maitland's first try to give Goode time to thread a kick to the corner that Wyles collected to score, before Maitland showed great footwork to dive over in the corner for his second.
Barrington's short-range effort late on underlined the dominance of the Saracens pack, with Lozowski converting to bring up a half century of points.
Sale unlucky but ill-disciplined
Just as Sale have failed to put together a run of results this season, so they failed to ever gain a foothold against a Saracens side able to recall the England quartet of Farrell, George, Mako Vunipola and George Kruis.
The visitors were victims of bad luck when their own England squad man, captain Josh Beaumont, was forced off with a thigh injury after only 20 minutes but Sale were also undone by their ill-discipline.
Laurence Pearce was sent to the bin for a late tackle on Farrell in the build-up to Goode's disallowed try, Jon Mills was shown yellow for a culmination of team infringements and James Flynn collected Sale's third card for a high tackle late on.
The deficit could even have been worse for Steve Diamond's side - Vincent Koch saw his short-range effort ruled out by the TMO to go with Saracens' two disallowed efforts before the break.
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall: "Owen is ready [to captain England]. He's one of those players who leads in every way because he leads from the front.
"Some of his defending in the second quarter was out of this world. He leads through his actions, but also through his messages and communication with the team.
"Jamie George [Hartley's understudy as England hooker] has been playing well for a long time. Everybody knows it will happen sooner rather than later."
What's next in Pool Three?
Sale host Saracens in the reverse fixture next Sunday, while Toulon travel to Wales to face Scarlets.
Saracens: Goode; Maitland, Bosch, Barritt (capt), Wyles; Farrell, Wigglesworth; Vunipola, George, Du Plessis, Itoje, Kruis, Rhodes, Brown, Burger.
Replacements: Lozowski for Farrell 41 mins, Skelton for Brown 51, Brits for George 52, Barrington for Vunipola 56, Koch for Du Plessis 56, Earle for Maitland 57, Spencer for Goode 61, Conlon for Burger 67.
Sale: Arscott; Odogwu, James, Leota, Charnley; MacGinty, Mitchell; Harrison, Webber, Aulika, Beaumont, Mills, Curry, Seymour, Pearce.
Replacements: Nott for Beaumont 20, Neild for Webber 56, B Curry for Seymour 56, Flynn for Harrison 59, Parker for Aulika 59, Phillips for Mitchell 64, Mugford for Arscott 74, Jennings for Leota 75.