Will Addison try helps steer Sale to Premiership success against Northampton
Will Addison's try proved decisive as Sale secured their second Aviva Premiership victory of the season after overcoming Northampton 20-13 at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Two Danny Cipriani penalties gave the hosts a 6-0 advantage before successive Stephen Myler three-pointers levelled the scores. However, it was the Sharks who went into the break ahead via Sam James' well-worked try.
Addison and Myler traded touchdowns at the start of the second period as the Cheshire outfit went into the final quarter in front. Northampton pressed for a late score which would snatch a draw, but Sale held on for their third consecutive home league win over the visitors.
By their high standards, the Saints endured an inauspicious start to the campaign, losing 13-12 at newly-promoted Worcester.
They then followed that up with a far more convincing display by dispatching Newcastle 42-16 at stadium:mk.
Jim Mallinder's men therefore started this encounter with confidence and put pressure on the opposition rearguard.
Despite an early onslaught, Sale remained firm and, with their first attack of the half, a Cipriani penalty gave the hosts a 3-0 lead.
The stand-off followed that up with another successful effort off the tee before the Saints came back into the contest and levelled matters at 6-6 through the boot of Myler.
Although there were brief glimpses of excellence, with Addison breaking through for Sale and Luther Burrell sprinting clear for Northampton, it was proving to be a tight and tense encounter as the two packs locked horns.
That was until the ball was shifted along the line to Josh Beaumont. The number eight, who was outstanding in last week's win over Worcester, offloaded to James and the centre chipped over Myler and collected for a superb score.
Cipriani converted and the Sharks held a 13-6 lead at the break. The buffer was soon extended as five minutes into the second period Mike Haley's high kick was expertly taken by Addison and the wing scampered clear for a seven-point score.
Northampton appeared to have responded immediately when Jamie Gibson crossed out wide but, after consultation with the television match official, the flanker was ruled to be in touch.
They were not to be denied, though, and Myler's excellent line off scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i reduced the arrears to seven points.
Sale were now under consistent pressure with the Saints' half-back pairing pinning the hosts back in the 22 but, to their credit, Steve Diamond's men defended manfully.
The Sharks almost received some reward for their resilience when they were given a penalty but Cipriani was awry from the tee, putting them under further duress in the final 10 minutes.
Northampton put together one last attack but, with the line just five metres away, they agonisingly knocked on to end proceedings.