Match Reaction: Northampton Saints 24 Sale Sharks 5
Jim Mallinder hailed his Northampton Saints side for their grit and determination after a morale-boosting 24-5 win against Sale Sharks, moving them into the top half of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.
The Saints made a fast start at Franklin’s Gardens and took an early lead through Ben Foden’s try, before Tom Wood added a second shortly before the half-hour mark.
Sale bit back after the break through a wonderful finish from debutante Denny Solomona, but Luther Burrell charged through the Sharks defence to score a late third – lifting the Saints to sixth.
The Saints have won five of their 11 games in the league, and Mallinder believes their fast start made all the difference.
“It was a good win, we had to fight bard for it. Sale did not give up. It is a shame we did not go on and score one of those disallowed tries but we have a win,” the head coach said.
Congratulations @SaintsRugby go into Christmas with a win start the new year on a high. Merry Christmas
— Paul Austin (@PaulAustin72) December 23, 2016
“There was a lot of good intent, I thought we attacked with accuracy so it is very pleasing.
“We have changed our warm-up a little bit and we always talk about wanting to make a good start but in recent weeks we haven’t.
“We have conceded tries and then we have a ten or 14 points deficit but last night was really pleasing. The players looked fresh and we are delighted.”
In contrast, Sale have now lost seven on the bounce and sit tenth in the table – ahead of just Worcester Warriors and Bristol Rugby.
The away side enjoyed a lot of possession and territory in Northampton, but they failed to capitalise for much of the night.
And director of rugby Steve Diamond admits his side are lacking confidence, ahead of next week’s crucial game with Bristol Rugby.
Diamond said: “I think we were taught a lesson. Every time Northampton got into out 22 they took something out of it and we panicked just before half time and gave a yellow card away.
“We had a good spell in the second half but we could not quite get over the try line.
Very excited to be back playing for @SaleSharksRugby tonight. Its a great xmas present to be able to get back on the paddock.
— Kieran Longbottom (@kmanlongbottom) December 23, 2016
“We went a little bit off script but it is a difficult place to come. We have a lot of spirit in the side but we are not clicking.
“The losses are irrelevant. You just need to do it in training. The side we played probably cost double what ours did but we can’t always use that excuse.”
Northampton Saints: Foden, Pisi, Burrell, Hanrahan, Estelles, Myler, Groom, A Waller (E Waller 63) , Haywood, Brookes (Hill 63), Lawes, Day (Ratuniyarawa 69), Wood (Gibson 69), Harrison, Picamoles.
Replacements: Clare, Kessell, Wilson, Tuitavake.
Sale Sharks: Haley, Solomona, James, Leota, Charnley, MacGinty (Arscott 68), Phillips (Mitchell 59), Harrison, Webber (Briggs 59), Aulika (Longbottom 55), Evans (Beaumont 40), Ostrikov (Mills 59), Neild, Lund (Seymour 59), Ioane.
Tries: Foden, Wood, Burrell
Conversions: Myler 3
Referee: Greg Garner