Northampton Saints kicked off their Premiership Rugby Cup campaign with a trip to Sale Sharks, and despite a determined performance from the young Saints side the experienced hosts held out for a 39-18 win.
A plucky, young Saints side held their own in the first forty sending Teimana Harrison over the whitewash in response to Sale’s penalty try and Simon Hammersley’s effort.
But Sale’s experience shone through in the second half, with the hosts scoring four more tries to take the win on the Premiership Rugby Cup opening weekend.
An opening day defeat, but plenty of grit and determination from our youthful Saints against a strong Sale outfit— Northampton Saints 😇 (@SaintsRugby) September 21, 2019
The veteran home side wasted no time pushing Saints’ defence and after mauling close to the line, whipped the ball wide five minutes in for Hammerlsey to finish out wide.
Despite sending the conversion wide, Rob du Preez made no mistake with his second knock when a penalty came within range shortly after.
But Saints hit back, and after working their way into Sharks’ territory, Grayson’s right boot provided Saints’ first points of the season to make it 8-3 at the quarter mark.
Dominant at scrum time, Sale were awarded a penalty try which saw them two scores clear. But the young Saints keep pushing forwards and after Sleightholme and Dingwall teamed up to get inside the Sale 22, it was the skipper Harrison who powered over for Saints’ first try of the season just before the break.
Now just seven points adrift, Saints attacked from the restart but when a flat pass was plucked out of the air by Rohan Jense Van Rensburg, the Sale centre powered in for the line to take the first points of the second half.
Saints’ brave attacks got them close but flowing play from the home side earned them the next spoils, with Van Resnburg breaking to see Chris Ashton fly over and take the score to 27-8 with a Du Preez conversion.
Another Grayson penalty closed the deficit some more, but the experience of the home side came to the fore in the final quarter as Sale sent Van der Merwe and then Hammersley over in quick succession.
Saints were not done in attack though and worked their way close before good hands from Devante Onojaife fed Coles to score under the sticks – with a Tommy Mathew’s conversion taking the score to 39-18 as the final whistle blew.