Horan opens unlikely Euro route for Sarries

Saracens 34 Sale 19

At approximately 4.17pm yesterday afternoon Saracens' season was saved – and the whole of Watford knew it.

That was the moment, 57 minutes into a thrilling match, when the replacement prop Joe Ross was driven over for a fourth try and the all-important bonus point that meant they stay in the Premiership.

But better than that, their emphatic victory over the high-flying Sale meant that Sarries also qualified for the European Wild Card play-offs. That delays the departure of their veteran internationals Abdel Benazzi and Tim Horan. The first leg of the play-off against Leeds is on Wednesday, the second up at Headingley next Sunday.

And both contributed here, with a try from former France lock Benazzi and a 43-metre drop goal from the former Wallaby centre Horan.

Neither has really set the Premiership alight. Horan's three seasons at Vicarage Road have been dogged by injury. He arrived in 2000 with torn ligaments in his foot, delaying his debut for four months. He broke a wrist last year up at Sale and this season bits of his overworked body have been breaking down at regular intervals.

Benazzi has lasted the course pretty well, although he has still been a member of a struggling side in his two years with the club. This will have made up for a lot of previous disappointment.

The home side began well, Andy Goode landing an early penalty and the outstanding right-wing Richard Haughton, scoring a 20th-minute try.

Sale were quickly back in the home side's faces, but not to any effect. Their chief problem was discipline. Whether in promising attacking positions or desperate defensive ones, Sale were adept at catching the referee Ashley Rowden's eye, and it cost them dear.

But they conceded their second try from a great move. Jos Baxendell was penalised for not releasing 20 metres from the Saracens line with the first half into added time.

Saracens tapped and went, and though Horan's pass was a little wild, Ben Johnston made a brilliant one-handed recovery, burst through and drew the full-back Jason Robinson before releasing Darragh O'Mahony. Sale hit back, powering upfield for the lock Dean Schofield to bulldoze over from close range for a try converted by Saracens old boy Nick Walshe.

A mere 25 seconds after the interval Sale confusion at the kick-off, deep in their 22, saw Johnston dart in and set up a try for Benazzi, who was having a blinding match in the second row. After Ross's effort came Horan's drop-goal. And in between there were a couple of consolation touchdowns for Sale's Robinson.

Saracens: T Horan; R Haughton, B Johnston, K Sorrell, D O'Mahony; A Goode (T Castaignède, 83), K Bracken (capt; M Williams, 81); D Flatman (Storey, 71), M Cairns (R Russell, 72), M Storey (J Ross, 51), A Benazzi (B Russell, 67-78), C Yandell (A Roques, 50), K Chesney, B Skirving, R Hill.

Sale: J Robinson; M Cueto, D Harris (C Rhys-Jones, 58), G Bond, S Hanley; J Baxendell, N Walshe; K Yates (J Thorp, 54), A Titterell (C Marais, 58), B Stewart, D Schofield (M Lund, 63), I Fullarton (C Jones, 67), P Anglesea, C Jones (P Davies, 38-40; 54), S Pinkerton (capt).

Referee: A Rowden (Thatcham).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada