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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.
Aviva Premiership Table
|Friday 5th September|
|19:45||Northampton vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 6th September|
|14:00||Sale vs Bath|
|14:00||Saracens vs Wasps|
|15:00||Leicester vs Newcastle|
|16:30||London Irish vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 7th September|
|14:00||London Welsh vs Exeter|
|Friday 12th September|
|19:45||Harlequins vs Saracens|
|Saturday 13th September|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Sale|
|15:00||Bath vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Exeter vs Leicester|
|Sunday 14th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Northampton|
|15:00||Newcastle vs London Irish|
|Friday 19th September|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Exeter|
|Saturday 20th September|
|14:00||Sale vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Saracens|
|15:15||Bath vs Leicester|
|Sunday 21st September|
|14:00||Newcastle vs Northampton|
|Friday 26th September|
|19:45||London Welsh vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 27th September|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Sale|
|15:15||Northampton vs Bath|
|Sunday 28th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Newcastle|
|14:00||Exeter vs Harlequins|
|Friday 3rd October|
|19:45||Bath vs Saracens|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com