Aviva Premiership: Saracens 41 Sale Sharks 13
PUBLISHED: 19:17 23 September 2017 | UPDATED: 19:17 23 September 2017
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England number eight Billy Vunipola was helped from the field with a leg injury as Saracens cruised to a convincing win over Sale at Allianz Park.
Vunipola received lengthy treatment just before half-time after being hurt as Saracens defended resolutely under a Sale barrage, before getting to his feet and hobbling around the perimeter of the ground, aided by two medics.
Ben Spencer crossed twice for Sarries with Liam Williams, Nathan Earle and Vincent Koch also going over and Owen Farrell converting all five tries and adding two penalties.
Byron McGuigan responded with two tries for Sale with Faf de Klerk kicking a penalty.
Sale suffered a big blow when fly-half AJ MacGinty was a late withdrawal through illness and scrum-half De Klerk switched to number 10 with Will Cliff coming into the side off the bench.
The visitors soon suffered a further setback by conceding an early try when slick passing sent Williams flying down the left flank and, when the ball was recycled, Spencer saw a gap to sell a dummy to score.
Minutes later, the two players again combined for a second score. This time a well-judged pass from Spencer gave Williams an easy run-in with two conversions from Farrell giving Saracens a 14-0 lead after only 10 minutes.
A wild pass from Duncan Taylor cost his side another try as unforced errors and ill-discipline prevented the home side extending their lead.
De Klerk put Sale on the scoreboard with a simple kick after Marcelo Bosch was penalised for a high tackle.
Farrell kicked a penalty before Saracens lost Vunipola two minutes before half-time with Calum Clark coming on to make his debut for the club.
The opening period of the second half was as disjointed as the second quarter as Sale continued to frustrate their opponents, but Farrell was able to extend his side’s lead with another penalty before raising the excitement level by creating the third try.
Farrell made an excellent break before sending the supporting Spencer in for his second try and a thrilling run from wing Josh Charnley looked to have earned Sale their first try but he lost the ball in the process of touching down as he was tackled by Sean Maitland.
It was rough justice on spirited Sale when Koch crashed over from close range for the bonus point but the visitors finally got their reward when McGuigan picked up a consolation try.
In the dying moments, Earle scored Saracens’ fifth before McGuigan showed great determination to score his second.
Saracens, tries: Spencer 2, L Williams, Koch, Earle; cons: Farrell 5; pens: Farrell 2.
Sale, tries: McGuigan 2; pen: de Klerk.