Sale 9 Saracens 15: Saracens stay strong to lift pressure

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The Independent Online

Saracens last night arrested their alarming slide that had seen them going downhill in the Premiership since November with the speed of an Olympic bobsleigh team by ekeing out an unforgettable win at Edgeley Park to end Sale's 14-match unbeaten home run.

Since their home defeat of Newcastle 16 weeks ago Saracens have lost eight league games on the trot, sacked their coach, Steve Diamond and, this week, welcomed the former Australia coach, Eddie Jones, to act as a consultant alongside Mike Ford until the end of the season. After last night's win, based on sound defence and commitment, Jones has made a fine start.

Before the end of the first quarter Saracens gorged themselves on a loose clearance by Jason Robinson, broke decisively down the left for Ben Johnston to cross in the corner. Glen Jackson converted and Saracens were on their way.

Once Sale put together some convincing passages of play Hugh Vyvyan and his cohorts conceded three penalties all of which Valentin Courrent converted so Sale turned round 9-7 up. But within 10 minutes of the second half Saracens made their authority tell with a try and a penalty by Jackson. They maintained their resolve despite Cobus Visagie being sent to the sin-bin and held out for a win which makes their condition less desperate.

Sale: Penalties Courrent 3. Saracens: Tries Johnston, Jackson; Conversion Jackson; Penalty Jackson.

Sale: J Robinson (capt); C Mayor, M Taylor, R Todd, S Hanley (O Ripol 68); V Courrent, S Martens (R Wigglesworth 61); B Coutts (E Lewis-Roberts 70), S Bruno, B Stewart (S Turner 49), D Schofield (I Fernandez Lobbe 58), C Day, C Jones, A Titterrell, N Bonner-Evans.

Saracens: M Bartholomeusz; D Scarbrough, K Sorrell, B Johnston (D Harris 67), T Vaikona; G Jackson, K Bracken (M Raulini 69); N Lloyd (K Yates h-t), S Byrne (M Cairns 56), C Visagie, S Raiwalui, T Ryder, K Chesney, T Randell, H Vyvyan (capt).

Referee: W Barnes (Middlesex).

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