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Match report: Sale Sharks 18 Northampton Saints 15

25 Nov 2017
Match report: Sale Sharks 18 Northampton Saints 15

Will Cliff’s penalty proved the difference as Sale Sharks held their nerve to edge out Northampton Saints at the AJ Bell Stadium.

In a clash where the pendulum swung from one way to the other, the two teams continually edged in front of each other but Cliff’s boot ultimately proved decisive, with Sale returning to winning ways in Aviva Premiership Rugby.

Faf de Klerk kicked the hosts into an early lead but with 13 minutes on the clock, the visitors opened their account for the evening, Jacobus Reinach charging down a de Klerk kick and blazing over the line.

The Saints extended their lead in the 21st minute when they edged the ball over the line among a swarm of bodies, Mike Haywood credited with the eventual score and Harry Mallinder kicking the extras.

A tense, tight encounter was finely poised at the break after Sale’s de Klerk broke free from the breakdown and charged over the whitewash, the South African then dusting himself down to convert his own score and make it 12-10 to Northampton at the break.

Just four minutes into the second period, the Sharks picked up where they left off, quickly popping the ball out to the right flank where teenage ace Ben Curry was on handy to make 15-12, raising the roof off the AJ Bell Stadium.

However, a successful Mallinder penalty 10 minutes later brought the teams level at 15-15.

A nip-and-tuck encounter continued as Sale edged their noses in front again in the 63rd minute as Cliff dissected the posts and shortly afterwards, Marland Yarde missed the opportunity to extend the Sharks’ lead as he failed to control a chipped kick forward on the left flank.

With full-time approaching, Northampton turned down the chance to kick for a match-levelling penalty and instead went in search of a match-winning try.

After kicking for the corner and then buffeting at the Sale back line at the death, the Saints were unable to fashion a breakthrough, with a knock-on sealing a Sharks victory.