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Northampton boss Jim Mallinder relieved after victory against Sale

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder was relieved to see his side record a first win in five matches with a 24-5 win over Sale after a difficult period for the club.

Saints conceded 97 points in two European Champions Cup losses to Leinster and have been placed under considerable scrutiny in the light of the head injury George North suffered against Leicester on December 3.

A joint RFU and Premiership Rugby investigation opted against charging Northampton or their medical staff with misconduct for allowing North to resume playing, despite the Saints winger appearing to have been knocked unconscious, but World Rugby today issued a statement which suggested "apparent non-compliance'' with its protocols.

Mallinder said: "I'm aware of the World Rugby report but the RFU (Rugby Football Union) will have to consider it.

"George is training with the squad, he is mentally fit and physically fit and when everyone is happy, he will return to playing, which he is looking forward to.

"It wasn't the best European cup campaign for us but resting players last weekend gave us a considerable advantage today as Sale picked a strong squad for last Sunday's game and that extra day also benefitted us."

Northampton deservedly recorded their ninth consecutive win over Sale at Franklin's Gardens with Tom Wood, Ben Foden and Luther Burrell scoring their tries. Stephen Myler completed the scoring by converting all three and kicking a penalty.

"We started well for a change and attacked with accuracy. It's disappointing we didn't get a bonus point as we needed Nic Groom to score one of the two tries that were disallowed by the TMO," Mallinder added.

"We've got Gloucester next week and then Bristol at home. These are games we are capable of winning and if we do we can move up the table."

Sale gave a spirited performance but could only manage a single try from wing Denny Solomona, their recent controversial recruit from rugby league, and they went down to their seventh consecutive defeat.

Sharks boss Steve Diamond said: "We are not clicking at the moment as we are panicking under pressure and can't beat anyone at present.

"You saw what Denny and Josh Charnley can do but we need to develop an all round game and get them more ball.

"We've got to keep plugging away but our recruitment is in place for next season when we will have four or five new players.

"We need leaders and direction and hopefully the new recruits will provide this.

"With 20 minutes to go, I thought we had a real chance of getting a bonus point but we couldn't convert our chances."

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