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Aviva Premiership: Sale Sharks shock leaders Northampton Saints
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Premiership leaders Northampton suffered just their second defeat of the season, going down 19-6 to Sale Sharks at AJ Bell Stadium.
Saints were restricted to just two penalties from Will Hooley, while Sale showed plenty of attacking enterprise in the first half, crossing for tries from Mark Cueto, Marc Jones and Tom Brady.
The visitors took the lead early on as Hooley slotted over a penalty from long range, but an inspired break from Dwayne Peel provided the home side with the platform for the first try.
Peel danced around 40 yards down the field before being stopped. However, the damage had already been done, as the ball was quickly whipped out wide to Cueto, who touched down at the corner. Danny Cipriani converted to give Sale a four-point lead.
Northampton hit back when they won another penalty, which Hooley once again converted, but the Sharks defence was holding them out well.
In fact the home outfit had the chance to restore there four-point advantage shortly after, although Cipriani failed with his goal attempt.
Yet the confidence Sale had in their attack was clear when they turned down two kicks at goal to go for the power play. It was a decision they would not regret as they then went over for their second try of the afternoon when Jones forced his way over from close range.
Referee Luke Pearce then sought assistance from the video referee to deal with fighting that broke out after the score, which saw both Saints captain Dylan Hartley and Sale's Sam Tuitupou sent to the bin for their involvement before Cipriani missed the conversion.
Cipriani later took full advantage of the space created against a one man down defensive line as he grubbered in behind the visitors defence through to Brady. The winger squeezed in at the corner, with Cipriani then converting from the touchline to make it 19-6 at half time.
The pouring rain restricted any free-flowing play to a minimum in the second half.
The visitors piled on the pressure and were deep in Sharks territory for a prolonged periods, but a magnificent defensive effort saw the Sharks through to victory in the end, as both sides failed to register a point in the second half.
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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