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'Everybody in the stadium could see that': Saracens boss annoyed at tight calls going against them

By PA
Rob Hislop of Saracens walks off the pitch after being sent off by referee Tom Foley during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Sale Sharks and Saracens at AJ Bell Stadium on March 05, 2023 in Salford, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall believed tight calls went against them as they lost a thrilling top-of-the-table clash to Sale 35-24 at a sold-out AJ Bell Stadium.

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Sale’s bonus-point victory cut the gap at the top to six points but they looked unlikely winners when they trailed 16-0 after 30 minutes.

However a yellow card for Alex Goode for impeding Tom O’Flaherty saw Sale score 14 points in the full-back’s absence to create a huge momentum swing.

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Sale grabbed a 28-19 lead but despite losing their replacement prop Robin Hislop to a late red card Saracens would not lie down and were unlucky to come away with nothing.

The impressive Joe Carpenter scored two tries for Sale, Sam James, Jono Ross and Jean-Luc du Preez were also on the try-scoring sheet with Rob du Preez converting all five.

Alex Lewington, Theo Dan and Kapeli Pifeleti scored Saracens’ tries while Goode kicked two penalties and Manu Vunipola one.

McCall said: “We made a really positive start, played really well for the first 30 minutes and were firmly in control.

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“The stadium was very quiet but then came the yellow card for Alex Goode and very quickly they scored easily and from then on we couldn’t get the momentum back.

“Some days you get the tight calls but today I didn’t think we did. I’m unsure about the yellow card for Alex and everybody in the stadium could see that there was a clear forward pass for their try just before half-time.

“We hung in there and produced a lot of fight and could have snatched it at the end but I’m disappointed to lose our bonus-point at the death.

“I’m very happy with this group as a whole as they’ve secured 24 points in the period when our internationals are away so they are responsible for putting us in this healthy position.

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“We will have our internationals back and hopefully we will soon get the two points needed to guarantee us a home semi-final in the play-offs.”

Sale director of Rugby Alex Sanderson said: “We were battered in a very physical game at Exeter (last week) and shattered so we had a low-key training week.

“It probably showed as our start was poor and our defence to their driving line-outs was also not good enough.

“I think Mark (McCall) might possibly be aggrieved at certain calls but they tend to even themselves out over the season and we did have opportunities to close that game out earlier than we did.

“A couple of huge defensive sets from us probably proved crucial and by scoring 35 points showed that our attack is in good shape.

“There’s now a good feeling within the group and we have to keep it going and keep improving as we have a few tough away games coming up. But for now we have to celebrate as that’s why we play the game.”

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