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).

News
John Moore inspired this Coca Cola Christmas advert
people

John Moore starred in Coca Cola and Morrisons adverts

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
people

Former boxer recalls incident when he was seven years old

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
A Rutherford Raiders shirt with the PornHub sponsorship
football

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser

Life and Style
Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
Apple CEO Timothy Cook
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film

Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study

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

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes