The week after this match has flown by, so I’m way past the point of writing a match report of sorts, so I think I’l go with some general ramblings.
Looking back on my Facebook timeline it seems that this is the time of year Sale and Saracens play each other, whether that’s in the Premiership or European Rugby these are 2 clubs who know each other well.
Saracens who’d lost to Bath in the Premiership the previous week were bolstered by the return of their internationals in the shape of Owen Farrell, George Kruis, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Sean Maitland. Maro Itoje hadn’t featured in the Autumn Internationals after injuring his hand and was making his first home appearance for weeks, and Billy Vunipola was in the sick bay after playing against Argentina. They also had short term signing Will Skelton on the bench, he looked to have shifted some weight when he came on in the 2nd half, a layer with a propensity to spend time on the naughty step it’ll be interesting to see how he fares.
Sale Sharks had 2 former rugby league players in Josh Charnley, a recent convert from Wigan Warriors and Kyle Eastmond who’d headed back to the North after a spell with Bath. In spite of registering Denny Solomona for the competition the controversial player didn’t feature. Solomona was announced as a signing for Sale Sharks during the week which has caused an outcry amongst rugby league fans and action in the High Court by Castleford Tigers, the team Solomona had signed a 3 year contract with during the summer. The player has it seems, retired from rugby league at the age of 23 to sign what will undoubtably be a lucrative contract with Sale Sharks. The High Court writ seeks damages from Sale, Solomona and his ageng Andy Clarke, brother of TV presenter Phil Clarke.
The Court will decide the outcome as far as damages for breach of contract are concerned, I believe Solomona will be an exciting addition to the attack at Sale, he and Charnley, if the pack can get the ball to them have the capacity to set the pitch on fire!
Back to the game that took place on a gloomy evening in North London, the team played as the home crowd have come to expect, as a unit determined to win the game. The return of the internationals was seamless it looked like they’d never been away. Sale were very unlucky to lose their captain and England probable Josh Beaumont with a thigh strain after 20 minutes but that aside they had no answer to a rampant Saracens.
The home team scored 6 tries with Marcelo Bosch, Jamie George, Chris Wyles, Richard Barrington and Sean Maitland with 2 crossing the line. Maitland has an ability to find space and capitalise on it, one of his tries came from a ball kicked through by none other than Schalk Burger, I’d question whether he’s ever done that before! A world class player he’s come into the Saracens set up and fitted in as if he’s been part of the team for years. His manner as he wandered around the pitch after the match showed how happy he clearly is to be part of what’s happening at Allianz Park.
Sale had a single penalty converted by AJ McGinty to show for a game that saw them receive 3 yellow cards, Saracens are a hard enough team to beat with 15 men on the pitch. The return fixture takes place this weekend and I’m sure Sale will have looked long and hard at their discipline. If they can release their ex rugby league flyers they’re fully capable of halting Saracens’ European run as they look to equal Munster’s European win run of 13 matches. The final score on leg one was Saracens 50 Sale Sharks 3.