Match reaction: Sale Sharks 20 Northampton Saints 24
Northampton Saints remain in the hunt for a place in the semi-finals of the Anglo-Welsh Cup after Rafi Tuitavake went over at the death to seal a 24-20 victory at Sale Sharks.
The Saints were forced to come from behind after trailing 8-0 at the break but Tuitavake’s dramatic score leaves them top of Pool Three with one round of matches to play before the knockout stages.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Cobus Reinach
Northampton swung the pendulum back in their direction with two tries in the space of four second-half minutes.
Ken Pisi and Ben Nutley scored but scrum-half Cobus Reinach was at the heart of both of those tries, the South African scrum-half showing off a pair of jet heels to twice drive his team up the field as they roared into a 14-8 lead.
TRY OF THE MATCH
Nutley’s try – the Saints’ second of the game – was a classic counter-attack, with the visitors blazing from their own 22 through Reinach, who linked up with Tuitavake to help send Nutley over.
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) January 27, 2018
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Northampton found themselves in the last-chance saloon as they looked to avoid defeat at the death but rather than throw caution to the wind, the visitors patiently probed and waited for their opportunity to strike.
Eventually, Tuitavake provided a telling contribution, crashing over to seal victory.
WHAT THEY SAID
Northampton Saints interim head coach Alan Dickens said that George North’s withdrawal shortly before kick-off was nothing to do with his recent knee problem.
Stephen Myler also came off at half-time and Dickens said: “George North pulled out just before kick-off. He was just tight, so it was a precautionary measure to hold him back.
“He’s probably had a tough week training with Wales. It was unfortunate, a last-minute withdrawal, so not ideal.
“Stephen had a tight hamstring. It’s something we need to look at on Monday.
“It was fantastic for James Grayson coming onto the pitch. He kicked well and took his points.
“It was disappointing for Stephen.”
BEST OF SOCIAL
— Cläïrë Jönës (@redhatphoto) January 27, 2018
— Sale Sharks🦈 (@SaleSharksRugby) January 27, 2018
Fantastic win for @SaintsRugby today, congratulations and well done to all the team and coaches
— Këvin Ätkinson (@KMRAtkinson) January 27, 2018
🤜🏼 Welcome back, @ThomasCollins13!
It was a winning return to action for our flying winger this afternoon pic.twitter.com/Lct0696JCO
— Northampton Saints (@SaintsRugby) January 27, 2018
Well done @SaintsRugby good win. 😇🏉👍
— Andï Wrïght (@shedster1) January 27, 2018