Premiership: Sale Sharks 12-32 Northampton Saints
|Sale (7) 12|
|Tries: Charnley, Evans Con: James|
|Northampton (15) 32|
|Tries: K Pisi, Paterson, Haywood, Waller Cons: Myler 3 Pens: Myler 2|
Northampton Saints boosted their Premiership play-off chances with a bonus-point win at Sale Sharks, who are still not clear of relegation trouble.
After a scoreless opening 28 minutes, Saints' Ken Pisi dived over and then Michael Paterson touched down.
Josh Charnley raced onto Mike Haley's chip through for his first Sale try, but Saints still led 15-7 at the break.
Hooker Mike Haywood was driven over and Ethan Waller raced in a fourth, either side of Bryn Evans' consolation.
Sixth-placed Saints are now four points behind Bath in fourth, while Sale have a 12-point buffer to bottom-side Bristol, who play Worcester on Sunday.
A scrappy first half in wet conditions at the AJ Bell Stadium was finally brought to life when wing Pisi collected Harry Mallinder's pass following some quick hands from the youngster.
A combination of dominance in the pack, which resulted in tries for forwards Paterson and Haywood, and accuracy from the boot of Stephen Myler meant Sale rarely threatened to overturn Saints' lead.
The visitors' excellent night was capped in the last minute when Waller finished off a fine team move to earn what could be a crucial bonus point in the run-in.
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond:
"Second half, fair play to them, Stephen Myler gave us a master class on how to keep us in our own half, and we couldn't deal with it.
"It doesn't happen often down here but we got out-enthused, which I'm not happy with - there's one or two of our lads who've got to look at themselves - if they have aspirations of playing at the highest level, they've got to do it here.
"As a collective the place looked leaderless - we lost Will Addison and it looked like nobody could take the game by the scruff of the neck, so I'm really disappointed with that."
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder:
"You don't play in the Premiership for 10 years, score so many points and make so many appearances if you're not a good player and Stephen is.
"He showed the value of experience in that position and some of his kicking was outstanding tonight."
"The team played with really good control which you need to do in these conditions.
"Our back three played well, we got into really good field positions to cover Sale's attacking and kicking threats and we probably did that a bit better than they did."
Sale: Haley; Solomona, Leota, Jennings, Charnley; James, Phillips; Harrison, Webber, Aulika, Evans, Mills, Nield, Lund, Beaumont (capt).
Replacements: T Curry, Flynn, Longbottom, Nott, B Curry, Seymour, Stringer, Mugford, McGuigan.
Northampton: Tuala; K Pisi, Tuitavake, Mallinder, Foden (capt); Myler, Groom; Waller, Haywood, Brookes, Paterson, Craig, Gibson, Clark, Harrison.
Replacements: Clare, Waller, Hill, Ratuniyarawa, Dickinson, Dickson, Estelles, Wilson.
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