Ben Earl paid tribute to his Saracens teammates for the warm welcome despite his captaincy stint ending in defeat in the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

The competition allows young talents to stretch their legs and gain vital match experience, with Earl taking that to a new level with the captain’s armband.

But he was unable to turn that into a win however as Sale Sharks came from 19-13 down at the break to win 29-22 and punish Saracens’ lack of ruthlessness.

But despite the result not going his way, Earl was keen to pick out the positives in the performance with a busy season ahead for the 19-year-old.

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“We learned a lot of lessons in that game. We actually played I thought pretty well and the rub of the green just wasn’t with us today,” he said.

“But we’ll regather and see where we can go next week. We’ve had a hell of a couple of weeks – unfortunately we haven’t got the results we wanted but the performances have shown the potential of this side.

“It’s been a great honour [to captain the team] and massive thanks to all the boys as they’ve helped me so much. Now we’ve got to consolidate and help the other lads prepare for the next few weeks.”