Brilliant London Irish end Saracens win while second-placed Sale Sharks also stood stunned

The London Irish beat Saracens to their London rivals in their first Premiership loss of the season while Newcastle Falcons beat Sale Sharks. Credit: Alamy

Saracens saw their winning start to the campaign ended in stunning fashion with the London Irish claiming a dramatic and well-deserved Premiership victory 29-20 on Friday.

In a game perpetuated by the cards, both teams were down to 14 men in the first half as Adam Coleman and Ben Earl were both sent off.

The Exiles certainly handled the disruption better and took a 16-3 lead thanks to Ollie Hassell-Collins’ try and Paddy Jackson’s three penalties.

Tries from Kapeli Pifeleti and Sean Maitland either side of the gap kept Sarries in the fight, but two more three-point shots from Jackson meant the Irishman remained in the ascendant.

The hosts were then reduced to 12 men as Rory Jennings and Rob Simmons were sentenced, but they held on brilliantly and went on to seal victory through Chandler Cunningham-South’s score.

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The Irish started strong to secure an exit platform in opposition 22. From there they secured possession to test the Saracens defense to the max before Benhard van Rensburg’s pass gave Hassell- Collins the chance to get past Farrell’s tackle to score.

Jackson converted, but his team suffered a blow when center Will Joseph limped off the field.

The hosts then suffered two back-to-back losses. First, Farrell’s penalty put Saracens on the scoreboard to reward a period of sustained pressure before Coleman was sent off, seemingly leaving the home side with a mountain to climb.

However, they still picked up the next points when Jackson kicked two penalties in quick succession as referee Matt Carley’s decisions were continually questioned by Farrell.

The Saracens skipper also questioned the red card shown to Earl in the 31st minute, with Jackson again on target with the resulting penalty.

But a standout Saracen remained in contention as replacement hooker Pifeleti forced his way through.

Farrell converted but with the final kick of the half Jackson overshot his fourth penalty, this time from the halfway line, to give Irish a deserved 19-10 lead at the interval.

Five minutes after the restart, the Saracens scored their second try. A speculative chip from Elliot Daly bounced awkwardly for Ireland winger Lucio Cinti, with Maitland on hand to pick up the pieces.

The visitors looked set to take control, but Jackson managed with his fifth penalty to temporarily keep them at bay, before Rory Jennings had the chance to escape with just a yellow card for a high challenge on Billy Vunipola at 20 minutes from the end.

Worse was to follow for the Irish when they were down to 12 players, with Rob Simmons sentenced for collapsing a maul, but remarkably a ragged Saracen was unable to score in their absence.

On their return, Farrell kicked in a penalty but Irish picked up a thrilling win when Cunningham-South completed a smooth move to send Ireland’s biggest crowd of the season home happy.

Newcastle’s stunning comeback stuns second place

Mateo Carreras and Sam Stuart’s tries saw Newcastle pull off a remarkable comeback as they saw Sale from high flying with a 20-14 Premiership win at Kingston Park.

The Falcons looked clueless in the first half as the Sharks deservedly entered the interval 14-0. However, a fantastic second-half performance, with Brett Connon scoring 10 points, saw Newcastle overturn the result.

Sale was rewarded for his good start after 11 minutes. A lineout was worked on the blind side and Ewan Ashman was able to enter the corner. Rob du Preez was on target from the touchline for the conversion.

Micky Young was sent to the trash after 24 minutes for tackling a player on the ground as Newcastle were penalized again halfway through.

Du Preez went into the corner with the penalty, and the lineout was spread wide for Tom O’Flaherty to pass to extend the lead before the fly-half once again added the extras.

The first half ended with Newcastle almost creating an opportunity with a rare foray into Sale 22 but a penalty for a high tackle from Carreras ended the attack, and the visitors were able to clear their lines and finish the half in a comfortable position.

The Falcons came on the board two minutes into the second half when Connon kicked a penalty kick inside the 22 to reduce the backlog.

Strong words must have been spoken in the locker room at half-time as it was another Newcastle side who came out for the second half.

A long period of pressure seemed to get them back in the game, only for Ben Curry to arrive with a crucial jackal roll near his line.

Carreras provided a spark for the Falcons, and the Argentina international was able to bust out two potential tackles to give the home side some momentum in the game, on a move where Sale appeared to be well placed in defence.

The hosts took the lead after 63 minutes as substitute Stuart was credited with a try after a maul putt, and Connon was close to adding the conversion and giving the Falcons a three-point lead.

The Sharks, who had been disciplined in the first half, began to lose their temper as some bad decisions cost them.

Daniel du Preez was penalized for clearing beyond the ruck, then dissent saw what would have been a regulation penalty become a formality for Connon, who made it past the posts.

Sale continued to fight but a late chance was lost with a loose pass through midfield as the home side ran out of deserved winners.

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