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Saints crush Sale

Northampton sealed their place in the Aviva Premiership semi-finals with a comprehensive 47-7 bonus-point win over Sale at a sun-drenched Franklin's Gardens.

The seven-try rout saw Jamie Elliott and James Wilson score a brace of tries each with Luther Burrell, Lee Dickson and Tom Wood also going over.

Sale, whose solitary try came from James Gaskell in the last minute, made seven changes to the side that beat Gloucester last week seemingly aiming to get as many English qualified players into the side to bump up their bonus from the RFU and Northampton took full advantage.

The young Sharks side actually made an impressively composed start with four minutes of possession and numerous phases ending with Tom Brady being held up on the line by Ben Foden.

An early penalty saw Stephen Myler give Northampton a 3-0 lead after 12 minutes and he added a second two minutes later. A scrum penalty sent Northampton on their way to the first try, with Burrell breaking off a ruck in the 22 before Wood stepped through the heavily outnumbered Sale line to score. Myler converted to make it 13-0.

Four minutes later Saints could have had a second but GJ Van Velze dropped Ken Pisi's pass 15 metres from the try-line before Pisi put a foot in touch just a metre shy of scoring. The home side finally touched down when Dickson tapped a penalty on the 22 and went round David Seymour to dive into the corner. Myler's conversion went over off the post.

Try number three came four minutes later when Burrell touched down. It was a sweet moment for the inside centre against the club he left last summer as he followed up Tom May's two kicks ahead to dive on the ball.

Northampton thought they had got their bonus point when Samu Manoa dived over, but referee Luke Pearce went upstairs and the TMO disallowed it for obstruction by Mujati earlier in the move.

But on 56 minutes Saints sealed their place in the Premiership play-offs when Elliott slipped down the left touchline to score from a turnover set up by great work from Courtney Lawes, who sacked a lineout drive five metres from Sale's try-line to top a performance full of power and excellent tackling.

Elliott scored a second when a cracking cross-field kick from Ryan Lamb bounced into his arms, allowing Martin Roberts to send Wilson over with a lovely flat pass. Replacement centre Wilson scored a second thanks to a nice scissors move with Lamb, before Sale ended the game with a consolation try from Gaskell, converted by Danny Cipriani.


From Belfast Telegraph