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Saracens will join the mighty Munster sides of 2005-2007 if they can beat Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium in Round 4 to extend their unbeaten run in the Champions Cup to 13 games.
You have to go back to the 13-9 defeat to ASM Clermont Auvergne in the 2015 semi-finals for the last time Mark McCall’s men were beaten. They marched to their first title last season with a perfect record of nine wins and have moved five points clear at the top of Pool 3 this term with three more wins.
McCall was pleased with the six tries his side scored in a 50-3 home win in Round 3, describing the performance as “really professional in tough conditions”. More of the same will be required at a venue where they were 28-13 winners in the Premiership last month.
Sale have yet to win post a pool win and are on a run of 14 successive defeats in the Champions Cup. Director of rugby Steve Diamond is hoping to blood new rugby league recruit Denny Solomona and will be looking for a much improved performance after seeing his side receive three yellow cards at Allianz Park last weekend.
“We want a result. We owe it to ourselves, to the coaches, and especially to the fans. Hopefully this weekend is the start of getting back on track,” said Sale Sharks centre Sam Tuitupou.
“It's all about the performance this week. The scoreboard didn't reflect it, but I think some of our boys played well last week
“Saracens are a world class team and they were made to work hard for each try they scored. We had a lot of young boys getting their opportunity, and they made Saracens work hard.”
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Saracens joined the great Munster side of 2005-2007 by equalling their tournament record of 13 successive wins with a 24-10 triumph at the AJ Bell Stadium that included 19 points from Owen Farrell.
After becoming the first team to win nine games in a row on their way to winning the Champions Cup for the first time last season, Mark McCall’s side made it four in a row this season with a double over Premiership rivals Sale.
Having run in six tries in a 50-3 home win over the Sharks in Round 3, life got a lot tougher away from home. They had led 26-3 at the break a week earlier, but only had two Farrell penalties to show for their efforts in the opening 40 minutes.
Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond had demanded a reaction from his side and their defensive display showed a massive improvement. So much so, in fact, that a penalty from AJ MacGinty meant they were only three points behind at the break.
The second half started poorly for the home side as Rob Webber become the fourth player in the two games against Saracens to pick up a yellow card when he hauled down a driving line-out in his 22. Fortunately for Webber, and his side, Farrell pushed his kick wide of the posts and then the England star proved he can be a mere mortal off the kicking tee by missing a second shot moments later.
Those two misses kept the game in the melting pot until New Zealand lock Bryn Evans picked up another yellow card for a deliberate knock down as Saracens looked to build an attack on the home 10 metre line. This time Farrell hit the mark to make it 9-3 as the game moved into the final quarter.
A third yellow card for Sale No 8 TJ Ioane 12 minutes from time gave Farrell the chance to kick a fourth goal and that made it six yellows in two games and nine in four games in the Champions Cup this season for Sale.
A delightful off-load as he went to ground in a tackle in the shadow of the home posts by giant Australian lock Will Skelton then paved the way for Farrell to cross for the first try of the game. Farrell added the simple conversion to make it 19 points on the night.
There was an quick exchange of tries at the death, with Nathan Earle racing onto a pin-point kick through by Alex Goode and then Bryn Evans cantering over for a try from the re-start, but nothing could unsettle Saracens. They remain the only unbeaten team in the Champions Cup this season.