Saracens sink Sale to go top
Saracens made it back-to-back wins over Sale to move top of Pool One in the European Champions Cup, but missed out on a bonus point as they won 28-15 at Allianz Park.
Alex Goode crossed in the first half for the hosts but Nathan Hines responded with a score of his own as a stubborn Sharks side refused to roll over despite being already eliminated from European competition.
Owen Farrell kicked 13 points for Sarries and after Ben Ransom went over for their second try just before the hour mark there appeared plenty of time to chase what could have been a vital bonus point.
The home side fashioned the first chance of the game after five minutes but David Strettle uncharacteristically spilled the ball with the try line beckoning.
However, Sarries did take the lead seven minutes later as the Sharks gave away another penalty in front of their own posts and Farrell easily slotted it home.
The away side were then punished for holding on and Farrell kicked a long-distance penalty to put Sarries 6-0 up.
But Sale responded positively and in the 22nd minute following sustained pressure, second-row Hines bundled over from close range, with Nick Macleod missing the conversion.
Sarries' sustained pressure was eventually rewarded, however, when a neat move was finished off by Goode in the right corner to put the host's 11-5 up as Farrell was unsuccessful with the conversion.
The visitors rallied and earned a penalty on the stroke of half-time, which Macleod easily converted to leave it at 11-8 heading into the break.
Sale came out quickly in the second half but Macleod's forward pass halted their early pressure and Sarries gradually turned the screw.
They restored their six-point advantage on 54 minutes when Farrell split the posts with his third penalty before Ransom, a first-half replacement for the injured Strettle, finished off a fine team move just before the hour.
Number eight Vunipola burst forward through the middle before finding Chris Wyles and his hand off set Ransom clear to put the home side 21-8 up, Farrell adding the extras.
Sale came back at Sarries and fashioned a great chance to score their second try but a wayward Michael Hayley pass forced Tom Brady into touch with the try line beckoning.
In the closing stages Sarries desperately chased a bonus point and Vunipola crashed over for their third try after a fine pass from Farrell but it was Sale who had the last laugh when Roberts crossed at the back of a rolling maul.