Two tries for full-back Joe Carpenter completed a remarkable comeback for Sale Sharks as they cut the gap at the top of the Premiership table to six points by beating Saracens 35-24 in a thrilling game at the AJ Bell Stadium on Sunday.

Trailing 16-0, Sale looked unlikely winners but a yellow card for Alex Goode and a late red for Robin Hislop ultimately proved decisive.

Sam James, Jono Ross and Jean Luc du-Preez were also on the try-scoring sheet with Rob du Preez converting all five.

Alex Lewington, Theo Dan and Kapeli Pifeleti scored Saracens’ tries while Goode kicked two penalties and Manu Vunipola one.

Saracens were quicker out of the traps and were rewarded with an early lead when Goode kicked a straightforward penalty and then a second.

After 20 minutes, Saracens scored an excellent try, Lewington with an easy run-in.

A strangely subdued Sale had not fired a worthwhile shot and their woes continued when Dan finished off an unstoppable lineout drive.

Sale needed a boost and they got one when Goode was yellow-carded for impeding Tom O’Flaherty with the hosts immediately capitalising with a try for Carpenter but Saracens soon responded with a penalty from Vunipola.

Goode was still absent when Sale scored their second try through James. A second conversion from Rob du Preez left the home side trailing 19-14 at the interval.

Sale were a totally different animal in the second half and after 54 minutes, Carpenter tore through the visitors’ defence for his second try with the conversion giving them the lead for the first time.

It was now one-way traffic with the hosts scoring their bonus-point try when Ross crashed over.

Sale looked in control but their opponents restored some of their momentum with a third try when replacement Pifeleti finished off a driving lineout.

In the final minute, Sale broke out for Jean-Luc du Preez to score their fifth try and deprive Saracens of a deserved bonus-point.

Sale director of Rugby Alex Sanderson said: “We were battered in a very physical game at Exeter (last week) and shattered so we had a low-key training week.

“It probably showed as our start was poor and our defence to their driving line-outs was also not good enough.

“I think Mark (McCall) might possibly be aggrieved at certain calls but they tend to even themselves out over the season and we did have opportunities to close that game out earlier than we did.

“A couple of huge defensive sets from us probably proved crucial and by scoring 35 points showed that our attack is in good shape.”