Fifth-placed Northampton Saints host fourth-placed Sale Sharks this weekend on home soil at Franklin’s Gardens, and we’ve crunched the numbers ahead of what is set to be a crucial Gallagher Premiership encounter...
FAST OR SLOW?
Saints have chalked up a whopping 70% of their tries within the first three phases, Tom Collins’ score at the Stoop last weekend the perfect example of how they love to strike from set-piece.
Sale have also shown a proficiency to score early in their possessions, with 10 first-phase tries in their 12 matches (vs 12 in nine for Saints).
Interestingly, it is the men in Black, Green and Gold who have more success when racking up the phases, having crossed six times to the Sharks’ four when the play goes beyond seven stanzas.
And at the other end of the field, Alex Sanderson’s side are most vulnerable within the first three phases, having conceded 70% in this time. While this may appear an enticing proposition for Saints, it’s worth noting that only Exeter (17) have conceded fewer tries this season than the Sharks (23).
TRY BINGE, OR TRY STINGE?
Saturday afternoon will largely be a story of who can stamp their style on the game, with the average number of tries scored in matches involving the two teams at opposite ends of the scale.
Only Bath (6.1) and Harlequins (6.6) have seen more tries per game this season than Northampton (5.7), while Sale games see the whitewash breached the fewest times by far (4.2).
The Sharks’ 20-13 win at Bristol was a good indicator of how capable they are of dictating the style of match they want to play.
As a team renowned for their mauling, it’s no surprise that Sale have an incredibly well-oiled lineout.
In fact, the men from the North West have lost the fewest lineouts in 2020/21, with their success rate of 90.3% only fractionally behind Bristol’s 90.5%.
Saints aren’t too far behind though, securing 88% of their throws. With teams against Sale enjoying a Premiership-high 92.7% win-rate, they’ll be hoping to utilise this form of restart as a way to launch attacking plays, or even showcase their own driving game.