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Match Reaction: Northampton Saints 26 Sale Sharks 11

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Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder admits his side had to bide their time in order to clinch maximum points at the expense of Sale Sharks.

Bryn Evans grabbed the first try of the game as Sale opened up an 11-point advantage and Northampton had to wait until the second half to lead for the first time.

Mike Haywood’s try shortly before the break was followed by quickfire scores after it, from Ken Pisi and Tom Collins.

The Saints also had to be patient in their pursuit of a bonus point but that arrived at last thanks to JJ Hanrahan, moving them into the top four at the expense of Leicester Tigers.

"Sale are a hard team to beat," said Mallinder. "They have had some good wins, so we are pleased.

“We had to work hard in the first half, it was good we scored just before half-time to bring us back a little, but then in the second half we played pretty well and dominated.

"Our set-piece was good and we played some nice attacking rugby. Our carrying was effective, we got our latches on early because they do have some good lads that get over the ball and they were slowing us down.

“I think that was key in the second half. In the first half they slowed us down but in the second half we managed to get some quick ball and we managed to move it away."

Mallinder also moved to cool any fears that centre Luther Burrell is a major injury concern after he was a late withdrawal from the match day squad, replaced in the starting XV by the DOR’s son, Harry.

"Luther has a bit of a quad strain,” he added. “He has had it for a few weeks and to be honest he was with England training this week where he made it a little bit worse.

“We were hopeful he would come through. I had to make a late change there, but thankfully Harry came in and played okay.

"It is not a massive injury and hopefully Luther will be back training next week."

Sale Sharks have a fearsome record at home this season but they have struggled to find form on the road and that continues to be the case.

They are now five points from the top half of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table and eight behind Northampton in fourth.

And director of rugby Steve Diamond admits a testing season has begun to take its toll on the Sharks’ compact squad.

He said: "Sides like Northampton have super squads; we don't have a super squad.

“We have two call-ups into Russia and Moldova for two of our pack stalwarts and that was noticeable. Northampton got the ascendancy in the scrum in the second half."
 
Northampton Saints: Foden; Pisi K, Pisi G, Mallinder, Collins (Tuala 77); Myler (Hanrahan 65), Dickson (Fotuali’i 54); Waller E (Waller A 52), Haywood (Marshall 65), Hill (Denman 65); Craig, Day (Matfield 64); Gibson (Fisher 64), Wood, Harrison
 
Sale Sharks: Arscott (Mitchell 71); Addison (Ford 65), James, Tuitupou (Jennings 54), Edwards; Cipriani, Stringer; Lewis-Roberts (Harrison 51), Briggs (Taylor 46), Mujati (Parker 74); Evans, Mills (Lund 65); Neild (Seymour 53), Ioane, Easter
 
Scorers

Northampton Saints
Tries:  Haywood, Pisi K, Collins, Hanrahan
Conversions: Myler 3
 
Sale Sharks
Tries: Evans
Penalties: Cipriani, Arscott
 
Attendance: 14,377
Referee: JP Doyle
 

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