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Aviva Premiership: Northampton grab bonus-point win over Sale
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- Sunday's Aviva Prem preview
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Northampton drew level with Saracens at the top of the Aviva Premiership table after easing to a 33-14 victory over Sale at Franklin's Gardens.
George North scored his first try for the Saints while Luther Burrell, George Pisi, Lee Dickson and Phil Dowson also touched down and Stephen Myler kicked four conversions.
Mark Cueto and Marc Jones scored tries for Sale but the away side never threatened to upset the odds.
Sale made the brighter start but it was Northampton who opened the scoring on their first visit to the opposition 22, Dylan Hartley softening up the Sharks defence before Burrell scythed through.
North then scored his first try in his fourth game since signing for Northampton after sustained pressure saw Jamie Elliott get within inches of the line before he popped up an offload for Wales star.
It was already looking like a routine win for Northampton and their third try came after 30 minutes when Dickson looped round from a lineout and spotted a big gap before offloading for Pisi to dive under the posts.
Sale then responded with some pressure of their own, homing in on the try-line before Calum Clark was forced to kill the ball. Referee David Rose had no hesitation in showing him the yellow card.
With the clock dead Cueto finally made Sale's extra man and intense pressure tell as he cut back on a hard line, blasting past two tacklers to touch down, with Danny Cipriani's conversion making it 19-7 at the break.
Cipriani missed a relatively simple penalty while Clark was still off the pitch and with their full numbers restored Northampton sealed the bonus-point try.
After Samu Manoa powered through the defence, Northampton smashed their way up to the Sale try-line and Dickson, who was outstanding in front of England coaches Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree, faked a pass to Burrell before squirming over.
Elliott looked to have scored a stunning fifth try as he collected his own kick, but the TMO showed the ball had clipped the touchline before bouncing back into his arms.
Dowson did score Northampton's fifth after a fantastic break from No 8 Sam Dickinson, who seared through the line and sidestepped a tackler before offloading. A couple of passes later Dowson had squirmed over.
In the final minute Sale had some comnsolation with a lineout drive handing Jones a converted try.
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