Sale Sharks 20-13 Northampton Saints: Sharks record second successive victory
Sale beat Northampton at the AJ Bell Stadium to record a second consecutive home win
Sharks score tries either side of half-time through Sam James and Will Addison
Fly-half Stephen Myler scores all of Saints points as they come away with a losing bonus point
Northampton Saints’ tough start to the 2015/16 Premiership campaign continued with a defeat on their travels against Sale Sharks.
Last year’s minor premiers had Stephen Myler to thank for all their points. The fly-half converting his own try on top of two first-half penalties, but it wasn’t enough as tries either side of half-time from Sam James and Will Addison, both converted by Danny Cipriani, who had previously notched two first-half penalties.
The defeat left Saints with just one win from their first three games of the season and without an away win in any competition since February, while moving ale into the Premiership’s top half.
An error-strewn start to the game hampered any chances of point from either side, but Northampton had the better of the opening exchanges before Cipriani missed a penalty goal on 15 minutes, but he would go on to make up for his earlier error by finally breaking the deadlock a minute later before slotting over a second three-pointer on 24 minutes.
Northampton got their response on the half hour mark as Myler booted the visitors to within three points before Luther Burrell intercepted and raced downfield to lay the platform for Myler to draw level with his second penalty of the afternoon.
But it was the hosts who would go into the break on top after arguably the try of the Premiership season so far though Sam James; after a slick pass from Josh Beaumont, James chipped the ball over Myler despite his despairing attempts to grasp possession and collected his own kick to score in the corner – Cipriani adding the extras to give the Sharks a 13-6 interval lead.
The hosts’ momentum did not stop there, however, as Addison stole a huge up-and-under before slipping through the cover defence to score beneath the posts.
After Cipriani had converted, Saints notably lifted and the visiting fans got the swift response they craved as Myler, after Jamie Gibson had had a try disallowed by the TMO, coasted over on the back of good ball play out wide. With 54 minutes on the clock, Myler improved his own score to haul Jimmies back into the contest.
An attritional period followed with Cipriani missing a penalty on 68 minutes before turnovers and handling errors quickly became commonplace.
Nick MacLeod then missed the opportunity to put the game to bed with three minutes remaining as his penalty hit the post and they claimed the spoils in dramatic fashion.
As Northampton heaped pressure on the home line in search of a draw, a knock on was forced, leaving the visitors to settle for a losing bonus point.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Sale Sharks: Sam James
In a match which was error-strewn and low on quality, James provided the magic touch to see the hosts over the line, alongside a stellar work ethic from the 6ft 4in 21-year-old, a proud product of the Sharks Academy.
Sale: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Will Addison, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Chris Cusiter, 8 Josh Beaumont, 7 TJ Ioane, 6 Dan Braid (c), 5 Jonathan Mills, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Neil Briggs, 17 James Flynn, 18 Brian Mujati, 19 Andrei Ostrikov, 20 Magnus Lund, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Sam James.
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 George Pisi, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Sam Dickinson, 7 Tom Wood (c), 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller,
Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Christian Day, 20 Jon Fisher, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Ahsee Tuala.
Date: Sunday, November 1
Venue: AJ Bell Stadium
Kick-off: 14:30 GMT
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant referees: Gareth Copsey, Andrew Jackson
Television match official: David Grashoff
Timekeeper: Anthony Turner
Assessor: Rowly Williams