Northampton Saints’ unbeaten start to the Premiership Rugby Under-18 Academy League season ended on Sunday, as they were defeated 45-19 by Sale Sharks.
The young Saints were unable to repeat their pre-Christmas victories over Leicester Tigers and Yorkshire Academy at Heywood Road, where they had to chase the game after falling 21-0 down during the first half.
They did pull a try back through winger Frankie Sleightholme – brother of Northampton first-teamer Ollie – who finished in the corner after a strong break by Jody Devine put his side into a scoring position.
Sale added another try before half-time to lead 28-5, but Saints’ youngsters deserved credit for a battling performance in the second half.
They added further tries after the break through captain George Patten and replacement Henry Pollock, both picking-and-going to score after driving mauls from line-outs had been hauled down.
“Probably the most disappointing thing was not the actual result, but more so the performance,” said Academy Coach, Will Parkin.
“We did really well in the first two rounds and we pride ourselves on the way we move the ball in attack and keep the ball alive.
“But we struggled to do that on Sunday, as they had the upper hand around the breakdown. They slowed our ball down, which obviously stopped our game.
“Defensively, we were perhaps a bit too eager at the breakdown, which then cost us our width and that stopped us from being able to go forward in the way we were able to do in the first couple of weekends.
“But it was a good lesson for the lads, and one that we hope we’ll turn around ahead of Worcester.”
The Under-18s will be taking to the pitch at Sixways for that match against the Warriors, which takes place this coming Sunday lunchtime.