Saracens 25-14 Sale: Billy Vunipola on top form despite England snub

Saracens 25-14 Sale: Snubbed England forward Billy Vunipola stars on return from knee injury as Byron McGuigan sees red after moment of madness on Alex Sanderson’s homecoming

  • Alex Sanderson’s Saracens homecoming was ruined by red-hot Billy Vunipola 
  • Sale wing Byron McGuigan was shown a red card for throttling Nick Tompkins
  • The visitors scored twice a man down but Saracens eventually pulled away
  • Sanderson took Sale to a south London pub to ‘lick wounds’ after the match 

Alex Sanderson’s Saracens homecoming was ruined on Sunday by red-hot Billy Vunipola and a moment of madness from Sale wing Byron McGuigan.

McGuigan was sent off in the second half for throttling Nick Tompkins and, although Sale scored through Ben Curry and Raffi Quirke, Vunipola and Co proved too strong for their old assistant coach.

Vincent Koch, Max Malins and Sean Maitland scored tries for Sarries, but Vunipola was the star again on his return from a knee injury.

Billy Vunipola (right) played superbly despite being snubbed by Eddie Jones’ England

Alex Sanderson, now Sale boss, saw his Saracens homecoming ruined by England forward

‘It is a fine series of games he’s put together for the club all season,’ said boss Mark McCall afterwards.

‘He has been inspirational for us all the way through. Eddie Jones has just asked him to keep backing up performances and he certainly did that.’

After the defeat, Sanderson took Sale to a south London pub to ‘lick wounds’ with a bye-week ahead.

Sale’s new England cap Bevan Rodd struggled in the scrum against South African Vincent Koch, who went over from a maul.

It was classic Sarries play and Sale’s frustration spilled over when Tompkins ruffled McGuigan’s hair to rub it in that they had been held up in-goal.

Sale wing Byron McGuigan (second left) was shown red for throttling centre Nick Tompkins

The wing took exception to the goading — striking Tompkins from behind, then judo-throwing him twice to the ground and holding the centre’s throat. 

‘Byron trains at UFC on his time off, so maybe he just had a flash-back to some sort of ultimate fighting session he’s done,’ joked Sanderson. ‘The emotion, the occasion, the fact we hadn’t scored — I was feeling that, too.’

Saracens then struck as Vunipola’s break saw him dummy to Nick Isiekwe before picking a tougher pass out to Maitland, who scored.

Curry and Quirke added tries when Sale were down to 14 but the visitors’ spirits were broken by a superb switch which sent Malins in for his eighth try in three club games and put Sarries up to second in the league.

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