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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.
|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale Sharks|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle Falcons vs Leicester Tigers|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Saturday 28th March|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Leicester vs Exeter|
|15:15||Saracens vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 29th March|
|14:00||Sale vs Gloucester|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Bath|
|Friday 10th April|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Bath|
|Saturday 11th April|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Gloucester|
|15:15||Saracens vs Leicester|
|Sunday 12th April|
|14:00||Exeter vs Northampton|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Sale|
|Saturday 25th April|
|14:00||Sale vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Bath vs London Irish|
|15:00||Northampton vs Saracens|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Welsh|
|Sunday 26th April|
|14:00||Wasps vs Exeter|
|Saturday 9th May|
|14:00||Sale vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 1st March|
|Wasps 32 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Exeter 16 - 6 Bath|
|Saracens 22 - 17 Newcastle Falcons|
|Leicester Tigers 28 - 8 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 12 - 50 London Irish|
|Friday 27th February|
|Northampton 17 - 13 Harlequins|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|London Irish 6 - 12 Leicester Tigers|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Bath 13 - 21 Northampton|
|Harlequins 21 - 32 Exeter|
|Gloucester 48 - 10 London Welsh|
|Sale Sharks 14 - 10 Saracens|
|Friday 20th February|
|Newcastle 23 - 23 Wasps|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Wasps 37 - 6 Harlequins|
|London Welsh 12 - 52 Sale|
|Saracens 34 - 24 Bath|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Exeter 46 - 17 Newcastle|
|Friday 13th February|
|Leicester 18 - 15 Gloucester|
|Northampton 15 - 9 London Irish|
|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle 38 - 7 London Welsh|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com