Premiership: Sale 10-15 Saracens

Charlie Hodgson

Charlie Hodgson kicked five penalties as Saracens moved top of the Premiership with victory over Sale, who earned a losing bonus point.

Hodgson's first kick gave Sarries an early 3-0 lead but Danny Cipriani's three-pointer and Marc Jones' try saw Sale go into the interval 10-3 ahead.

The Sharks could not sustain the pressure in the second period as Hodgson added four further penalties.

It saw them displace Northampton at the top of the standings table.

Saracens started well and hooker Jamie George showed excellent dexterity to put a kick in behind the hosts' back three and, after the Sharks had infringed, Hodgson converted the resulting opportunity to take Sarries in front.

Cipriani then levelled matters following a mistake from Mako Vunipola.

They were further ahead when another mistake from the visitors allowed the home side to build pressure and a powerful driving maul ended in Jones going over. Cipriani added the conversion as the Sharks went into the break seven points in front.

Saracens opened the second period impressively and it paid off when Hodgson kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit.

Another successful three-point chance from their pivot took them to within one before a high James Gaskell tackle allowed the former England international to edge them ahead.

Nick Macleod then had the chance to take Sale ahead late on, but his effort missed the target and Hodgson rubber-stamped victory with a fifth from the tee.

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond: "Overall, I'm reasonably happy as we managed to get six points out of these last two games.

"There were a few decisions early doors that went our way, he probably should have yellow carded Quates (Mark Cueto) for tackling the guy without the ball, but equally there was a high tackle which wasn't seen for us.

"But the decisions didn't go our way in the last 20 minutes, I think the penalty count was 14-6 in the whole game which is disappointing, so we'll have to work on our discipline a bit more."

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall: "I thought that Charlie Hodgson, Richard Wigglesworth and Neil de Kock controlled the game beautifully.

"After a six-day turnaround, to come up to Sale is a difficult ask and I thought that we were deserved winners.

"I thought that we played well in the first half and deserved to be up at half-time but we weren't.

"What we did this time around was show a lot of composure and patience in the second half."


Sale: Miller, Brady, Leota, Tuitupou, Cueto, Cipriani, Peel, Lewis-Roberts, Jones, Cobilas, Ostrikov, Paterson, Braid, Seymour, Gaskell.

Replacements: Arscott for Brady (67),MacLeod for Cipriani (60), Cliff for Peel (69), Harrison for Lewis-Roberts (50), Taylor for Jones (50), Thomas for Cobilas (54), J. Mills for Ostrikov (60), Easter for Seymour (60).

Saracens: Goode, Ashton, Taylor, Barritt, Strettle, Hodgson, Wigglesworth, M. Vunipola, George, Stevens, Borthwick, Kruis, Brown, Burger, Wray.

Replacements: Tomkins for Taylor (60), Wyles for Strettle (67), de Kock for Wigglesworth (50), Barrington for M. Vunipola (71), Brits for George (50), Johnston for Stevens (50), Botha for Kruis (69), Joubert for Wray (60).

Att: 6,109

Ref: Greg Garner (RFU).