THE emphatic victory on Saturday afternoon temporarily put Glasgow Warriors in line for a Champions Cup knock-out stage appearance, until Saracens bounced back from the news that they are being forced out of the English Premiership next season to produce a stirring win over Racing 92 on Sunday, which jumped the reigning champions into that eighth and final quarter-final

slot. The last thing anyone needs to hear after a grievous setback is that they only have themselves to blame, but when the dust settles and they look back on this pool campaign, the Warriors will recognise that they were the principle architects of their own downfall.

Having defeated La Rochelle in France in round three, they then slipped up against the same opposition seven days later. Four points there, instead of a single losing bonus point, would have made all the difference. They also had chances to beat Exeter Chiefs last weekend but had to settle for a draw.

For Saracens, this was a remarkable achievement. The North London side, who have dominated both English and European rugby in recent years, found out on Saturday evening that they are being thrown out of the Gallagher Premiership for failing to get their wage bill back under the league’s salary cap. Their star-studded playing roster will now have to be dismantled and it is a huge credit to the squad and coaching team that they managed to rouse themselves to secure this vital 27-24 win – especially after losing second-row Will Skelton to a red-card for a dangerous tackle just before half-time, at which point they were trailing 17-21.

The quarter-final draw sends Saracens to Dublin to take on Leinster at the start of April, who they defeated in last year’s final, for what is bound to be a massive match. You get the feeling that that Owen Farrell and co are hellbent on achieving something special this season, before their team is dismantled in the summer.

Warriors, meanwhile, must now focus on the PRO14 and trying to go one better than last year’s Grad Final defeat to Leinster at Celtic Park. They have their work cut-out, having managed only a 50 percent winning record from eight matches in that competition this year, but their consistency has started to improve in recent weeks – and the return of Leone Nakarawa after three and a half years playing in France provides them with the sort of edge they have been crying out for.

The giant Fijian marked his first game back with the club by scoring a third minute try against the Sharks, and his power, athleticism and offloading ability will cause any opposition problems, as well as create opportunities for those around him to shine.

Fraser Brown, DTH van der Merwe and Sam Johnson also scored, to bring up the bonus point just seven minutes after half-time, before Sale’s replacement prop Jake Cooper-Woolley got his team off the mark. Warriors were soon back on top, however, with Adam Hastings kicking a penalty, followed by further tries from Jonny Gray and George Turner to finish off the scoring.

Saracens, meanwhile, on the news that they would be relegated at the end of the season for the salary cap breaches, accepted their fate yesterday.

A club statement read: “The board of Saracens wishes to apologise unreservedly for the mistakes made in relation to the salary cap regulations.

“Our goal is to rebuild confidence and trust.”

Sale Sharks J Carpenter (C Redpath 48, B Carlile 73); D Solomona (T Roebuck 59), L James, J Williams, M Yarde; T Curtis (J Carpenter 67), W Cliff (F Warr 59); R Harrison, C Langdon (R Webber 48), W John (J Cooper-Woolley 48), M Postlewhaite, J Phillips, T Curry, B Curry (C Neild 50), J Ross (S Dugdale 59).

Glasgow Warriors G Bryce; D Van Der Merwe (N Matawalu 59), H Jones, S Johnson (P Horne 48), K Steyn; A Hastings, A Price (G Horne 57); A Seiuli (O Kebble 49), F Brown (G Turner 57), Z Fagerson (A Nicol, 65), S Cummings, J Gray, L Nakarawa, T Gordon (C Fusaro 65), R Wilson (R Harley 52).

Referee Pascal Gauzère