Premiership: Sale Sharks 32-23 Northampton Saints

Simon Hammersley scores a try for Sale
Sale's Simon Hammersley scored a try to continue his good form since moving to wing
Aviva Premiership
Sale (17) 32
Tries: Van der Merwe, D du Preez, Hammersley, MacGinty Cons: MacGinty 4 Pens: MacGinty
Northampton (7) 23
Tries: Collins, Francis Cons: Grayson 2 Pens: Grayson 2, Mallinder

Sale started their Premiership campaign with a bonus-point victory over a spirited Northampton side.

It looked ominous for Saints when Sale raced into a 17-0 lead with tries from Akker van der Merwe and Dan du Preez.

Tom Collins went over from a maul as the visitors responded but Simon Hammersley and AJ MacGinty scored after the break to put Sale 29-13 ahead.

The hosts had Jono Ross sin-binned in a scrappy last 20 minutes but were clear despite Piers Francis' try for Saints.

Steve Diamond's Sale conceded a number of second-half penalties to give their opponents hope but Northampton left empty-handed, ruing their slow start to the match.

Springbok hooker Van der Merwe flew through a gap to open the scoring before an impressive offload for Du Preez to go clear, but Saints then found their footing and arguably deserved more from the half after the setback of losing George Furbank to a head injury.

Hammersley did not need to break stride to receive a pass and score in the corner for Sale, with United States fly-half MacGinty selling the visitors a dummy for the bonus-point try.

Sale skipper Ross was yellow-carded for the accumulation of penalties from the hosts but they had just enough of a buffer to avoid a nervy finale.

Earlier on Friday Sale were cleared of any wrongdoing in their handling of a coronavirus outbreak last month, which saw them forfeit their final game of the 2019-20 campaign and miss out on the play-offs.

Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd told BBC Radio Northampton:

"I thought we scrummed well, the line-out was good, the contest on the ball was pretty good and certainly that area was encouraging.

"You couldn't say it was a lack of willingness or intent, it was just at times we weren't accurate enough and lost some key moments.

"I thought we were good across the board, without being brilliant."

Sale: L James; Solomona, S James, J V Rensburg, Hammersley; MacGinty, De Klerk; Morozov, Van der Merwe, Oosthuizen, Wiese, JL du Preez, Ross (capt), B Curry, D du Preez.

Replacements: Langdon, Rodd, Cooper-Woolley, Phillips, Postlethwaite, Cliff, R du Preez, McGuigan.

Northampton: Furbank; Tuala, Proctor, Francis, Collins; Grayson, Taylor; Waller (capt), Fish, Hill, Moon, Ratuniyarawa, Isiekwe, Wood, Harrison.

Replacements: Marshall, Auterac, Franks, Ribbans, Tonks, Mitchell, Dingwall, Mallinder.

Referee: Ian Tempest.

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