Premiership: Brilliant London Irish end Saracens’ winning run while second place Sale Sharks also left stunned

Saracens saw their winning start to the campaign stunningly ended by London Irish, who claimed a dramatic and thoroughly deserved 29-20 Premiership victory on Friday.

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

The Exiles certainly dealt better with the disruptions and went 16-3 ahead thanks to Ollie Hassell-Collins’ try and three Paddy Jackson penalties.

Kapeli Pifeleti and Sean Maitland’s tries either side of the interval kept Sarries in the contest, but two more Jackson three-pointers meant Irish remained in the ascendency.

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

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Irish began strongly to secure a line-out platform in the opposition 22. From there, they secured possession to test Saracens’ defence to the full before Benhard van Rensburg’s pass gave Hassell-Collins the chance to brush past Farrell’s tackle to score.

Jackson converted, but his side suffered an injury blow when centre Will Joseph hobbled from the field.

The hosts then received two setbacks in quick succession. First, Farrell’s penalty put Saracens on the scoreboard to reward a period of sustained pressure before Coleman was sent off, leaving the home side seemingly with a mountain to climb.

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

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

But an out-of-sorts Saracens remained in contention when replacement hooker Pifeleti forced his way over.

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

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

The visitors looked set to take control, but Jackson succeeded with his fifth penalty to temporarily keep them at bay, before Rory Jennings was fortunate to escape with just a yellow card for a high challenge on Billy Vunipola with 20 minutes remaining.

Worse was to follow for Irish when they went down to 12 players, with Rob Simmons sin-binned for collapsing a maul, but remarkably a ragged Saracens could not score in their absence.

On their return, Farrell kicked a penalty, but Irish secured a thrilling victory when Cunningham-South finished off a flowing move to send Irish’s biggest crowd of the season home happy.

Newcastle’s superb comeback stuns second place Sale

Tries from Mateo Carreras and Sam Stuart allowed Newcastle to complete a remarkable comeback as they saw off high-flying Sale with a 20-14 Premiership victory at Kingston Park.

The Falcons looked devoid of ideas in the first half as the Sharks deservedly went into the interval 14-0 up. However, a fantastic second-half performance, with Brett Connon kicking 10 points, saw Newcastle turn the result on its head.

Sale were rewarded for their positive start after 11 minutes. A lineout was worked down the blindside, and Ewan Ashman was able to go in at the corner. Rob du Preez was on target from the touchline for the conversion.

Micky Young was sent to the sin-bin after 24 minutes for tackling a player on the floor as Newcastle were penalised once more on halfway.

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

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

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

Strong words must have been given in the changing rooms at half-time as it was a different Newcastle side who came out for the second half.

One long period of pressure looked like it would get them back into the game, only for Ben Curry to come in with a crucial jackal turnover near his line.

Carreras provided a spark for the Falcons, and the Argentina international managed to burst through two would-be tackles to dot down to give the home side some momentum in the game, on a move where Sale seemed to be well-placed in defence.

The hosts moved ahead after 63 minutes as replacement Stuart was credited with a try after a rolling maul went over, and Connon was spot on to add the conversion and give the Falcons a three-point lead.

The Sharks, who had been disciplined in the first half, started to lose their cool as some poor decision-making cost them.

Daniel du Preez was penalised for clearing out beyond the ruck, and then dissent saw what would have been a regulation penalty become a formality for Connon, who was successful in front of the posts.

Sale kept battling, but one late chance went astray with a loose pass in midfield as the home side ran out of deserved winners.

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