By Ed Owen
Director of rugby Steve Diamond was left on the edge of his seat after Sale Sharks’ stirring second-half comeback against Saracens in the LV Cup.
Sharks were trailing 20-12 at half-time at the Salford City Stadium but ended the game 25-23 victors courtesy of Rob Miller’s late penalty.
Diamond said: “If you weren’t involved, it was a good game of rugby!
“We injected some youth and enthusiasm in the second half, and overall I’m really pleased. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I’m delighted with the win.”
The former chief executive was left concerned by a first half performance which featured a weak
defence and plenty of errors.
“We were poor in the first half defensively. Saracens are a good side, and even though they were
missing some players, they know how to win.”
Despite opening the scoring courtesy of a third-minute Mark Cueto try – unconverted – Sharks found
themselves on the back foot throughout the opening forty minutes.
Sarries’ Zimbabwe-born inside-centre Nils Mordt was able to take advantage of mistakes just four
minutes later, scoring the first of two penalties.
Powerful runs by full-back Ben Ransom proved a problem – the Saracens academy product was
at the heart of a length-of-the-pitch move which split the Sharks defence and ended in a Kameli
Ratuvou try – Mordt converted.
In-between these two moves, Sale were awarded a penalty try – referee Llyr ApGeraint Roberts
penalising Saracens for collapsing a maul, which Jordan Davies converted.
But Ransom popped up again, his dangerous running provoking Mordt’s second converted penalty
and later allowing former Rugby League star Joel Tomkins in for a try.
Yet Sale came back after the break, taking advantage of Saracens lock Eoin Sherriff’s spell in the sin-
bin for foul play at the lineout in the 48th minute.
In Sheriff’s absence the home side were able to amass ten points courtesy of a try from Fraser
McKenzie, converted by Davies, and a penalty from Danny Cipriani.
But within two minutes of Sherriff’s re-introduction, Sarries scrum-half Ben Spencer put his side back
in front with a penalty.
However, Sale weren’t finished –Miller fired a penalty over the posts with seven minutes to go,
giving the Sharks only their third victory of the entire season.
With a potentially tough trip to Gloucester and their atmospheric Kingsholm ground next Saturday,
it’s hoped the Sharks can translate their cup form to the Aviva Premiership.