Saracens 33-22 Sale: Gallagher Premiership leaders assert authority in top-of-table clash

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Alex Goode produced a virtuoso performance to celebrate his entry into Saracens' history books but it was Theo McFarland who did most to ensure the occasion was marked by victory over Sale.

Saracens cemented their place at the summit of the Gallagher Premiership with a 33-22 win at StoneX Stadium after they recovered from a shaky start to boss the team placed one spot below them in the table.

In honour of making a record 339th appearance for the club, Goode was given a guard of honour that included World Cup winners Francois Pienaar and Michael Lyangh and it was his dynamic solo try that initially turned the tide.

The 34-year-old former England full-back was influential throughout, making a seamless transition from full-back to fly-half when Manu Vunipola was injured, but McFarland stole the show.

One terrific catch and two devastating breaks, the first of which swept him over the whitewash, continued the Samoan lock's brilliant start to the season.

Nine players across both teams were missing to England duty, while Saracens' duo Owen Farrell and Jamie George were injured, but there were still plenty of highlights, including a spirited Sharks fightback that ultimately fell short.

Sale brought their forward power to bear in a ominous start that produced a try for Ben Curry from a line-out, but that was soon eclipsed by a moment of magic from Goode.

The score started with McFarland's towering gather of the restart but it was Goode, acting as first receiver, who provided the magic as he spotted a gap and accelerated clear to touch down.

Problems began to mount for Saracens, however, as Goode was forced to switch positions before conceding a penalty try as Sale poured forward from a line-out. To compound matters, Ben Earl was sin-binned for going in at the side on his debut as captain.

For all their control of the match, Sale led just 15-8 when Elliot Daly landed a long-range penalty and on the half-hour mark McFarland was responsible for another moment of brilliance that saw the scores levelled.

Alex Lozowski made the initial inroads before later feeding McFarland who slipped around Robert du Preez before showing remarkable athleticism to canter over the line. Goode kicked the conversion and added a penalty as Saracens took the lead for the first time.

The advantage grew early in the second-half when Goode won a turnover and once Nick Tompkins had showed his dancing feet to bring the move to life, Saracens' playmaker sent over the marauding Earl.

Daly kicked a 60-metre penalty but was then sin-binned for taking Du Preez out in the air and Tompkins followed him for a dangerous tackle, reducing Saracens to 13 men for three minutes.

The pressure eventually told when full-back Joe Carpenter went over and Sale were now dominant, although they were denied what looked like a certain try by spilling over the line.

The Sharks had wasted their final throw of the dice as Saracens drove downfield where Goode - who was inevitably named man of the match - grubbered for Tompkins to score.

Additional reporting by PA.