Sale Sharks missed out on a key result after valiantly losing out to Northampton Saints by 32 points to 12 at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday night.
Josh Charnley dotted down for the first time since his cross-code move from Wigan Warriors, with Bryn Evans adding a second-half score.
The visitors’ tries came through Ken Pisi, Michael Paterson and Mike Haywood, who scored his third try in two games, before Ethan Waller added a fourth.
The Sharks’ intent was clear from the start when opting to kick near the corner from successive penalties early on, only for the ball to eventually be stolen at the lineout, giving Stephen Myler the chance to relieve the pressure.
The first quarter remained scoreless with Denny Solomona going closest after a fine display of footballing ability down the right wing before his second kick went dead.
Pisi’s opening try took 28 minutes to arrive after Solomona had failed to field Myler’s up-and-under putting the Saints on the front foot. The ball was shipped out to Nafi Tuitavake, who flicked it on to the winger to put him in the corner for an unconverted score.
The AJ Bell fell silent on 36 minutes when referee Thomas Foley went to the television match official, who ruled that lock Paterson had come through the ruck to dot down and double the visitors’ lead. Myler slotted his first kick of the night to make it 12-0.
Sale found an immediate reply just two minutes later when Mike Haley’s grubber kick found a gap in the Saints’ defence to tee up wing Charnley for his first try in Sale colours.
Sam James’ first kick at goal was a baptism of fire for someone who isn’t a regular kicker, but he slotted the touchline conversion with aplomb.
The opening of the second half was as dull as the first, before it stuttered in to life thanks to Saints’ Haywood carrying over.
A well worked lineout drive saw the Northampton maul rumble over the whitewash before the hooker emerged from beneath the bodies with the ball, allowing Myler to add a further two points from the tee.
Myler added a penalty to top-up the Saints’ score but Sale found their reply thanks to some expert carrying from their forwards.
Josh Beaumont and Halani Aulika both made their mark before lock Evans eventually carried over from 15 metres out.
Northampton sealed a try-scoring bonus point with the final play of the game when replacement prop Waller powered over the line.
Myler’s final kick of the game bisected the uprights leaving Sale lingering in 10th place.