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Saints 25-34 Sale Sharks: Hosts leave themselves too much to do in second half

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

A second-half comeback appeared to be on the cards for Northampton Saints, but ultimately Denny Solomona’s first-half hat-trick proved decisive as Northampton’s winning run at home came to an end against Sale.

Sale secured a bonus point before half-time with four tries from their wingers, but Saints managed to close Sale’s lead down to just nine points, looking like a different side after the interval.

Michael Paterson, Rob Horne and Heinrich Brüssow all crossed but the clock was against the hosts and it was too big a deficit to overcome.

Saints were hampered by early injuries to Tom Wood and skipper Christian Day, but Sale got out of the starting blocks quickly, dominating the play in Northampton’s half.

And Solomona broke the deadlock after five minutes as their pressure paid off, with the winger dotting down in the corner despite Ahsee Tuala almost stopping him in his tracks.

Sale were rewarded with a penalty soon after for their intensity at the breakdown, with South African scrum-half Faf De Klerk – having already nailed a touchline conversion – slotting over the crossbar from near the halfway line.

Piers Francis replied with a kick of his own to close out the first quarter of the game, and to get Saints on the scoreboard after a tumultuous period in Sale’s half.

But Solomona soon had his second score of the afternoon as the Sale backs returned Francis’ crossfield kick, and dashed down the wing in high numbers before the England international pierced through the middle and dotted down in front of the posts.

Francis notched another three-pointer but Solomona couldn’t stop scoring in the first half as he crossed again in the corner following a brutal Sale line out.

The forwards paved the way and De Klerk once again added the extras to send Sale 24-6 ahead on the approach to half-time.

But another furious break meant Marland Yarde secured the bonus point for the Sharks before the clock could hit 40 as some impressive footwork from de Klerk’s chip over the top saw him plant the ball under the posts.

The second half started in a much better fashion for the home side, as Michael Paterson crossed the whitewash for their first try of the game, after numerous phases wore the Mancunian side down.

Referee Wayne Barnes also sent Jono Ross to the bin, but Saints also paid a price as Luther Burrell became the latest casualty of the afternoon.

Northampton pressed for their second try, and while Sale’s defence were in phenomenal form, they couldn’t stop Rob Horne as he latched onto a long-range pass from Francis to dot down in the right corner.

The comeback was well and truly on with Saints now only 13 points behind, and soon Mike Haley ended up in the sin bin after tripping Cobus Reinach who was chasing his own punt forward.

De Klerk slotted a second penalty through the sticks to put the scores at 18-34, but Saints were eyeing up their next score to close the gap.

They made their way through Sale’s defence and it was Heinrich Brüssow who reached out for the line, scoring his first try in Black, Green and Gold to cut Sale’s lead to nine points with ten minutes remaining. 

Saints then made a gripping break for the line only to be unluckily dispossessed by Sale, and time wasn’t on Northampton’s side as they searched for a late winner.

SAINTS Tuala; Tuitavake, Horne, Burrell, Foden; Francis, Groom; Ma’afu, Haywood, Brookes, Ratuniyarawa, Day (capt), Wood, Brüssow, Harrison
Replacements Marshall, van Wyk, Ford-Robinson, Paterson, Gibson, Reinach, Myler, Pisi

SALE Haley; Solomona, Addison (capt), James, Yarde; James, De Klerk; Harrison, Webber, John, Evans, Ostrikov, Ross, Curry, Strauss
Replacements Jones, Flynn, Aulika, Beaumont, Neild, Cliff, McGuigan, Charnley



TIMELINE
5’ SALE Try Solomona Conversion De Klerk 0-7
13’ SALE Penalty De Klerk 0-10
19’ SAINTS Penalty Francis 3-10
26’ SALE Try Solomona Conversion De Klerk 3-17
32’ SAINTS Penalty Francis 6-17
35’ SALE Try Solomona Conversion De Klerk 6-24
39’ SALE Try Yarde Conversion De Klerk 6-31
HALF TIME Saints 6-31 Sale
43’ SAINTS Try Paterson Conversion Francis 13-31
53’ SAINTS Try Horne 18-31
61’ SALE Penalty De Klerk 18-34
70’ SAINTS Try Brüssow Conversion Francis 25-34
FULL TIME Saints 25-34 Sale

 

Match

Northampton Saints vs Sale Sharks

Match Details

FT ScoreFull Time Score

Saints 25-34 Sale

Attendance

8,403

Referee

Wayne Barnes

Northampton Saints
Northampton Saints
25

Summary

Full Time

Sale Sharks
Sale Sharks
34

Starting LineupNorthampton Saints

14

Nafi Tuitavake

13

Rob Horne

12

Luther Burrell

11

Ben Foden

9

Nic Groom

1

Campese Ma'afu

3

Kieran Brookes

5

Christian Day

7

Heinrich Brüssow

SubsNorthampton Saints

18

Jamal Ford-Robinson

19

Michael Paterson

20

Jamie Gibson

21

Cobus Reinach

22

Stephen Myler

23

Ken Pisi

Opposition LineupSale Sharks

15
Mike Haley
14
Denny Solomona
13
Will Addison
12
Luke James
11
Marland Yarde
10
Sam James
9
Francois de Klerk
1
Ross Harrison
2
Rob Webber
3
Will-Griff John
4
Bryn Evans
5
Andrey Ostrikov
6
Jono Ross
7
Ben Curry
8
Josh Strauss

SubsSale Sharks

16
Marc Jones
17
James Flynn
18
Halani Aulika
19
Josh Beaumont
20
Cameron Neild
21
Will Cliff
22
Byron McGuigan
23
Josh Charnley
Rugby

Tuitavake: The boys really fronted up and it paid off

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

Putting themselves three points clear at the top of Pool 3 yesterday as they scraped a late win over Sale Sharks, Saints still have plenty of work ahead of them as they look to secure their place in the Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-finals.

Sealing the win at the AJ Bell with a last minute Nafi Tuitavake try, Saints now need just three points from next Friday's clash with Harlequins at Franklin's Gardens to book their place in the knock-out rounds.

Tuitavake said that the win gave the whole squad a real boost after coming into the game off the back of a tough loss the previous weekend against Saracens.

"We didn't need any more motivation after that," the winning try-scorer commented.

"We had to come and front up today and heaps of boys put their hand up. I think everyone, as a team, really delivered out there and we came away with the victory in the end.

"It's always a good feeling, but especially away from home. We planned in the week to go away and put our hand forward for the Anglo-Welsh title. The boys really fronted up today so there's smiles all round the changing room."

Scoring his third try in three games yesterday, the Tongan centre said that while it was often a case of right place, right time, he was glad of the scores.

"I don't think too much into it. I'm alway quite lucky with the bounce of the ball or being the guy at the end of the line. I don't want to jinx myself but it's been good.

"I still had a little bit of work to do this time to support Grayson, I was just there for if he needed me. Fortunately he gave me the pass and I could feel someone pushing me over the line. It was a great feeling.

Looking ahead to the challenge of Pool 2 leaders Harlequins, who have yet to drop a league point in the competition, Tuitavake said the focus was on putting right the wrongs of their last match-up with the Londoners to give themselves the best chance of earning a home semi-final.

"We definitely can't sit on this win. We've got to come into the home game next week with a real focus. We had a tough loss to Harlequins at Twickenham so it's a chance for us to rectify that."

Tickets are now available for Saints' Anglo-Welsh Cup clash with Harlequins from the ticket office at Franklin’s Gardens, online by visiting bit.ly/SAI-QUI-AWC or by calling the Saints Ticket Office on 01604 581000.

posteamteam namepldwdlfadifftftatblbpts
8
Sale Sharks
Sale SharksSAL22100125565312567609554
9
Northampton Saints
Northampton SaintsNOR228014509645-13664805643
Form Guide

Form

LLLLL

Last match

Lost to Sale 23-32

Past meeting

Lost 23-32
Full Time
Northampton Saints
Northampton Saints
25
Sale Sharks
Sale Sharks
34