Sale 16-27 Northampton
SALE (3) 16
- Try: Miller, Taylor
- Pens: MacLeod 2
NORTHAMPTON (27) 27
- Tries: Elliott, Tonga'uiha, May
- Cons: Lamb 3
- Pen: Lamb
- Drop goal : Lamb
Northampton Saints ran in three tries to beat Sale and move up to second in the Premiership table two points behind leaders Harlequins.
The visitors took control of the first half with Jamie Elliott, Soane Tonga'uiha and Tom May all going over.
Ryan Lamb added 12 points with the boot to give Saints a 27-3 half-time lead.
Rob Miller and Tommy Taylor scored second-half tries for the home side, but the Saints held firm for their seventh win of the season.
The match was Sale's first since New Zealander John Mitchell took charge of first-team affairs earlier this week, but he was unable to inspire the Premiership's basement side who have only one win all season.
Northampton's England full-back Ben Foden, making his first appearance since September, helped set up a dominant driving maul which resulted in Lamb slotting over a penalty.
MacLeod responded for Sale to level at 3-3, before Saints took full control.
Elliott went over in the left-hand corner and a turnover at the breakdown saw Tonga'uiha race away for Northampton's second try.
Lamb converted both tries and kicked a drop goal while May latched onto MacLeod's stray pass to cross the whitewash, with Lamb adding the extras for a third time.
The visitors' 24-point half-time lead was reduced when Mark Cueto sent Miller clear to go over. MacLeod missed the conversion but did successfully kick his second penalty on 50 minutes.
Taylor gained a consolation score for Sale but they remain rooted to the foot of the table.
VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Sale coach John Mitchell:
"Northampton's forward pack was outstanding in the first half. The determining factor of that period was the lineout drive and I thought they were very effective.
"We never built any pressure or any starting position. In the second half, we showed better character and built some pressure.
"The forwards had a torrid time tonight. We're still very immature as a side and we get frustrated easily, so we've got to learn to become more patient."
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder:
"I was slightly disappointed with the second-half performance.
"I think in the first half we were very good and dominated the game. Our scrum was on top, as well as our driving maul. We defended well and therefore took our opportunities at the right time.
"We talked about doing exactly the same thing in the second half and we didn't do that. I'm disappointed with the second half but we got the win and that's important, particularly away from home."
Sale: Shepherd; Amesbury, Cueto, Tuitupou, Miller; MacLeod, Peel; Harrison, Taylor, Buckley; Gray, Myall; Powell, Seymour, Vernon.
Replacements: Addison for Cueto (74), Uys for Tuitupou (24), Cliff for Peel (41), Roberts for Harrison (62), Cobilas for Buckley (62), McKenzie for Myall (57), Gaskell for Powell (65). Not Used: Ward.
Northampton: Foden; K Pisi, G Pisi, Waldouck, Elliott; Lamb, Roberts; Tonga'uiha, Hartley, Mujati; Manoa, Sorenson; Clark, Dowson, Van Velze.
Replacements: May for Waldouck (24), Myler for Lamb (59), Dickson for Roberts (62), A. Waller for Tonga'uiha (65), Haywood for Hartley (74), Doran-Jones for Mujati (63), Oakley for Clark (71), Nutley for Dowson (78).
Referee: Llyr Apgeraint-Roberts (RFU).