Sale Sharks 29 Saracens 22: Sarries beaten again in Anglo-Welsh Cup
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Anglo-Welsh Cup: Sale Sharks 29 Saracens 22
Sale Sharks produced an excellent second-half display as they registered a second successive Anglo-Welsh Cup win by defeating Saracens 29-22 at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Sarries were impressive in the opening period and deservedly went into the interval 19-13 in front thanks to Will Skelton’s try and four Max Malins penalties.
The narrow six-point buffer did not do their performance justice and they were made to rue an error at the set-piece which allowed the Sharks to remain in contention.
Ben Curry’s touchdown, following a botched line-out, and a pair of AJ MacGinty three-pointers gave the home team hope going into the second 40-minute session and they took advantage.
Will Cliff’s penalty ate into that deficit further before Alexandru Tarus put Sale in front, but Malins restored Saracens’ lead on the hour mark.
However, MacGinty and Mike Haley gave the Greater Manchester team the victory as the visitors suffered yet another agonising loss in the competition.
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Sarries were also left stunned by Harlequins last weekend, succumbing 30-29 to their fellow Londoners after being 26-5 ahead at one stage.
Clearly frustrated by that result, the visitors were the better team for much of the first half.
Although MacGinty scored first, bisecting the uprights following a Saracens infringement, the Allianz Park outfit soon hit their stride.
Malins almost immediately levelled matters from the tee before their heavy-duty forwards got to work.
In particular, Australian international Skelton, with his 22-stone frame, was making significant indents in the opposition defence and the lock rewarded a period of pressure by touching down from close range.
MacGinty reduced the arrears from the tee but Sarries were controlling proceedings and their stand-off added a brace of three-pointers to take them 10 points clear.
The Sharks were struggling for possession, with the away side’s inexperienced playmakers doing a fine job of dominating the game, but the hosts were gifted a score late in the half when Curry latched onto Scott Spurling’s overthrown line-out.
There was still time for the visitors to reassert their authority, however, as MacGinty was yellow-carded for a cynical infringement and Malins made it a six-point game at the break.
Sale improved in the second period and Cliff, standing in for MacGinty, kicked a penalty before Tarus crossed the whitewash to give the Sharks the lead for the first time in the contest.
Malins then responded off the tee for Saracens but MacGinty’s three-pointer and Haley’s breakaway try secured the win for Sale.