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MATCH REPORT Saints clear enough in Salford fog

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

A half-time lead came courtesy of scores from Jamie Elliott, Soane Tonga'uiha and Tom May, opening up a gaping 27-3 advantage. Ryan Lamb kicked a supplementary 12 points and while Sale mustered up a spirited second 40, including two tries of their own, the buffer proved more than comfortable enough.


Saints were on the go right from kick-off and a huge maul was only halted by illegal means after Ryan Lamb's penalty to touch. Through the fog, the Saints fly half kicked his side into the lead.


Given the conditions, both sides fared well under an inevitable barrage of high balls but when Sale were first to snare one against the head, Rob Miller's take would ultimately lead to the penalty that restored parity.


It wouldn't stay level for long though, Saints again going to the maul and swift hands from Calum Clark and Brian Mujati freeing Elliott on the overlap, who scooted in for the game's first try. When GJ van Velze nicked a turnover on the same flank some five minutes later, the number 8 burst up the left and this time Tonga'uiha was the shadow of a figure awarded the try after the South African's smart offload. Lamb pierced the gloom to land both conversions and in a matter of minutes the visitors had raced clear.


By now the game was being played almost exclusively in the Sale half and having worked their way up to the hosts' 22 once more, Lamb coolly slotted his third drop goal in as many weeks to reward the Saints' ongoing dominance.


Still, they had to survive a scare before moving further ahead. It took a trademark saving tackle from the returning Ben Foden to deny the Sharks a try from Nick MacLeod's break and when the fly half inside pass failed to stick, he was left trailing in Tom May's dust. The replacement centre scorched beside the posts from 40 metres with the half's final play and the Saints were already well on their way to a third straight win.


As good as their finish to the first 40 was though, their start to the second was poor and after Sale cut through on the left, it was only a matter of moments before Rob Miller was put away in the opposite corner for his side's first try.


The five points were the lift that the home fans were looking for and on the pitch the Sharks looked rejuvenated, too. MacLeod chipped into their deficit with a second penalty of the evening after more pressure.


Saints were by no means wobbling, but the quick start certainly gave them food for thought and the game tightened up once more as they edged Sale back into their own half. Chances were now at a premium and despite going to the driving game once more to good effect, a fourth try and fifth point wasn't forthcoming for the Saints.


Instead, it was Sale would have the final say as they grabbed a late score, the TMO confirming Tommy Taylor's grounding on the left.


The Saints left happy with four points in the bag, but also with the knowledge that they will need to produce their first half form for the full 80 with unbeaten Ulster looming in seven days time.


TIMELINE

5mins SAINTS Pen Lamb 0-3

16mins SHARKS Pen MacLeod 3-3

19mins SAINTS Try Elliott Con Lamb 3-10

24mins SAINTS Try Tonga'uiha Con Lamb 3-17

33mins SAINTS DG Lamb 3-20

40mins SAINTS Try May Con Lamb 3-27

HALF-TIME SHARKS 3 SAINTS 27

44mins SHARKS Try Miller 8-27

50mins SHARKS Pen MacLeod 11-27

77mins SHARKS Try Taylor 16-27

FULL-TIME SHARKS 16 SAINTS 27