Goode haul has Sarries on target for play-offs

Sale 19 Saracens 30
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The Independent Online

Saracens took a huge step towards qualification for the Guinness Premiership play-offs with a compelling victory over hosts Sale at Edgeley Park. The visitors consolidated third place in the table, which would earn them an away semi-final next month, but defeat leaves Sale still in danger of relegation.

"We played some good rugby in the first half but didn't get the rewards and missed a couple of kicks at goal," the Saracens director of rugby, Brendan Venter, said, "but really stepped it up in the second half and I thought we were really good in the second half."

Dry conditions and a firm pitch in Stockport encouraged running rugby. Sisa Koyamaibole spotted a gap to burrow over from close range for Sale after 10 minutes, but Chris Wyles broke two tackles on the left wing to touch down in the corner on 22, before Charlie Hodgson's boot established a 16-13 half-time advantage for the hosts.

Saracens dominated the second period, deservedly going in front through full-back Alex Goode's try under the post. Although he converted his own try, the visitors initially could not put the game to bed. Centre Brad Barritt then made the points safe when when he finished off substitute Jacques Burger's break down the right. Goode converted and that was that.

"I thought for 40 minutes we were good," said Sale's Kingsley Jones. "We were good in patches in the second half, but against a side of that quality you cannot make a mistake at that high level. We made three or four mistakes."

Scorers: Sale: Try Koyamailbole; Conversion Hodgson Penalties Hodgson 3; Drop goal Hodgson. Saracens: Tries Wyles, Goode, Barritt; Conversions Hougaard, Goode 2; Penalties Hougaard 2, Goode.

Sale: Vakacegu; Cueto, M Tait, Thomas (Kennedy, 70), Cohen; Hodgson, Wigglesworth (Peel, 62); E Roberts (Kerr, 74), Briggs (M Jones, 74), Forster, C Jones (Cox, 72), Schofield, Koyamailbole (Fearns, 67), Seymour, Ormsby.

Saracens: Goode; Tagicakibau, Powell, Barritt (Ratuvou, 74), Wyles; Hougaard (Jackson, 24), Marshall (De Kock, 59); Aguero, Brits, Du Plessis, Vyvyan, Ryder (Burger, 50), Melck, Saull (Botha, 50), Joubert.

Referee: T Wigglesworth (RFU).