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Saints pile misery on Sharks
Northampton remain on the heels of league leaders Leicester
Northampton kept up the pressure on leaders Leicester at the top of the Guinness Premiership with a 15-7 victory over Sale on Sunday.
The result, Saints' first ever league win at Edgeley Park, leaves Sale rooted to the bottom of the table after Leeds' victory over Saracens saw them leap two places into 10th spot above Worcester.
Tries from wings Paul Diggin and Chris Ashton saw Northampton overcome a dismal goal-kicking display from fly-half Stephen Myler, who missed four straightforward penalties.
Myler should have booted Saints into an early lead as the visitors made an assured start, but sent his simple penalty attempt wide of the posts.
And the stand-off again failed to make Saints' dominance pay when he missed a second penalty from almost the same spot as his first.
Another chance went begging when flanker Courtney Lawes threw a forward pass to Chris Ashton, who knocked on just metres from the line.
Myler missed two more penalties but, fortunately for him, opposite number Charlie Hodgson was also off target with his first attempt at goal.
Myler made some amends for his horror show with the boot with a beautiful grubber which sat up for winger Diggin to touch down two minutes before half time.
Full-back Bruce Reihana showed his team-mate how it should be done, slotting the conversion to take Northampton into the interval 7-0 up.
Eight minutes after the restart, top Premiership try-scorer Ashton crossed to extend Saints lead after their pack had once again disrupted a Sale scrum.
Ashton created and finished the move, switching play from one side of the field to the other before linking up superbly with centre Joe Ansbro and Reihana for the score. Reihana missed the conversion.
Northampton brought Dan Vickerman on for his debut and Myler was replaced by Shane Geraghty, who put the visitors more than two scores clear with a 65th-minute penalty.
Sale winger Ben Cohen gave his side a glimmer of hope when he touched down in the corner after fine work by fellow wide man Marika Vakacegu on the other flank.
Hodgson added the extras from out wide but, in the final seconds, saw his long-range penalty bounce off the post to deny the Sharks a crucial bonus point.
|Sunday 21st December|
|14:00||Wasps vs London Irish|
|Friday 26th December|
|15:00||London Irish vs London Welsh|
|Saturday 27th December|
|14:00||Bath vs Exeter|
|14:00||Sale vs Leicester|
|15:00||Newcastle vs Saracens|
|16:30||Harlequins vs Northampton|
|Sunday 28th December|
|14:30||Gloucester vs Wasps|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:45||Northampton vs Newcastle Falcons|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Saracens vs London Irish|
|16:30||Exeter vs Gloucester|
|Sunday 4th January|
|14:00||Wasps vs Sale|
|14:00||Leicester Tigers vs Bath|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Harlequins|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Saracens|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:00||Sale vs Northampton|
|15:00||Bath vs Wasps|
|15:15||Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Newcastle Falcons vs London Welsh|
|15:00||London Irish vs Exeter|
|Saturday 14th February|
|15:00||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|15:00||Northampton vs London Irish|
|15:00||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 15th February|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|15:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|Saturday 20th December|
|Gloucester 16 - 39 Bath|
|Northampton 23 - 19 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 78 - 7 London Welsh|
|Harlequins 15 - 7 Newcastle Falcons|
|Friday 19th December|
|Sale Sharks 18 - 11 Exeter|
|Sunday 30th November|
|Newcastle Falcons 13 - 18 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 14 - 43 Northampton|
|London Irish 9 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 29th November|
|Exeter 27 - 19 Saracens|
|Leicester Tigers 18 - 16 Wasps|
|Friday 28th November|
|Bath 25 - 6 Harlequins|
|Sunday 23rd November|
|London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester Tigers|
|Saracens 24 - 31 Northampton|
|Saturday 22nd November|
|London Irish 23 - 33 Bath|
|Exeter 31 - 15 Wasps|
|Friday 21st November|
|Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 Gloucester|
|Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale Sharks|
|Sunday 16th November|
|Wasps 71 - 7 London Welsh|
|Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 Saracens|
|Saturday 15th November|
|Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle Falcons|
|Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London Irish|
|Friday 14th November|
|Gloucester 15 - 22 Harlequins|
|Northampton 18 - 24 Exeter|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com