North off the mark as Saints sink Sale

ALL SMILES - George North celebrates his first try for Saints with Luther Burrell (Pictures: Kelly Cooper)
ALL SMILES - George North celebrates his first try for Saints with Luther Burrell (Pictures: Kelly Cooper)
1
Have your say

George North scored his first Saints try as they cruised to a 33-14 bonus-point win over Sale Sharks at Franklin’s Gardens.

Luther Burrell opened the scoring against his former club before North, George Pisi, Lee Dickson and Phil Dowson went over in a high-tempo home performance.

Northampton Saints V Sale Sharks.

Northampton Saints V Sale Sharks.

Stephen Myler, in his 200th appearance for Saints, added eight points as Saints made it three wins from four Aviva Premiership games this season.

Sale battled bravely but could only celebrate two scores as Mark Cueto, the Premiership’s all-time leading try-scorer, and hooker Marc Jones dotted down.

Danny Cipriani and former Saints fly-half Joe Ford, respectively, added the extras to the tries, but it was scant consolation.

It was to be North’s score that brought the biggest roar of the evening as he added the gloss to a fine team move that culminated in a neat Jamie Elliott pass to the Wales juggernaut.

Northampton Saints V Sale Sharks.

Northampton Saints V Sale Sharks.

Saints were rewarded for some fine approach play and could have added more scores on a night when their attacking improvement was again in evidence.

They fulfilled the expecation that had built up before Myler marked his landmark moment by leading the team out to a backdrop of noise.

But Sale were in disruptive mood early on, dominating the breakdown and forcing their hosts into mistakes.

Cipriani, not a man short of confidence, was keen to points on the board early on for the away side, but his penalty from inside his own half was nowhere near the target.

Northampton Saints V Sale Sharks.

Northampton Saints V Sale Sharks.

The Sharks had shown their teeth early on, but they couldn’t break down a stubborn Saints defence and soon enough the pressure was being applied at the other end.

After a trademark break from North down the left, Saints showed great patience to work the ball through the hands to Burrell, who found a gap and dived over the line.

Myler added the extras to hand his side a 7-0 lead and, after starting with a swagger, Sale had been punctured.

In contrast, the home side were growing into the game and soon had another score, this time Elliott offloaded to North, who had the simplest of finishes in the corner.

Northampton Saints V Sale Sharks.

Northampton Saints V Sale Sharks.

Myler missed the conversion but it wasn’t going to matter as Saints were flying and Sale, as they had done when losing 47-7 at the Gardens in April, were struggling to cope.

The desire of Jim Mallinder’s men was summed up by Elliott’s superb kick and chase that saw him floor Luke Arscott near the Sale line.

And that aggression was rewarded as Saints got the ball back and sent Pisi through unopposed.

After Myler had slotted the simple conversion, it was all looking a bit easy Pisi at 19-0, with the Sharks needing some sort of response before the break.

But after Calum Clark had been sin-binned for a deliberate block, Saints were finally breached as Cipriani sent centre Cueto through a hole to score.

Cipriani, who had got over a shaky start, added the extras to cut the gap to 19-7 at the break.

Northampton Saints V Sale Sharks

Northampton Saints V Sale Sharks

The fly-half had the chance to reduce the deficit further in the early minutes of the second half, but his penalty was horribly scuffed, to the delight of the Gardens faithful.

Sale were refusing to go away, but Saints had their sights set on a bonus-point try and after some sharp handling in midfield put the pressure on and Dickson burrowed his way over.

Myler added the conversion to make it 26-7 before Elliott was denied a picture-book try as his kick ahead was deemed to have gone out of play before he latched onto it to dot down.

But it wasn’t to be long before Saints scored again as a great break from man of the match Sam Dickinson cut Sale open before the ball was worked wide to Dowson to cross the line.

The Sharks had been battered and bruised, but, to their credit, they continued to show fight until the final seconds.

Replacement hooker Jones gave the small band of away fans something to shout about, scoring from a lineout drive, with Ford converting.

Saints had done more than enough, though, and now move on to a tricky October, which begins with a game against arch rivals Leicester Tigers at Welford Road next Saturday.

Saints:

Foden; Elliott, G Pisi (Wilson 61), Burrell, North (K Pisi 67); Myler, L Dickson (Fotuali’i 60); Corbisiero (A Waller 60), Hartley (c) (Haywood 61), Mercey (Denman 60), Lawes (Wood 60), Day (Manoa 49), Clark, Dowson, Dickinson.

Sale Sharks:

Arscott; Miller, Cueto, Forsyth, Brady (Ostrikov 69); Cipriani (Ford 67), Cliff (Fowles 67); Lewis-Roberts (Harrison 50), Taylor (Jones 50), Colbilas (Thomas 50), Kulemin (Mills 50), Paterson, Braid (c), Seymour, Easter.

Replacements not used: McKenzie.

Referee: David Rose

Attendance: 13,050

Northampton Saints V Sale Sharks.

Northampton Saints V Sale Sharks.