Northampton enjoyed the perfect afternoon ahead of their Heineken Cup quarter-final as they beat Sale 53-24 in the Aviva Premiership.
Northampton enjoyed the perfect warm-up for their Heineken Cup quarter-final against Ulster as they overcame Sale 53-24 on Saturday.
It was the club's third successive victory and moves the Saints closer to a play-off spot.
Jim Mallinder's men struggled badly for form and confidence during the Six Nations but the return of their stars bolsters them at just the right time.
Chris Ashton and team-mate Tom Wood both touched down to punish the indiscipline of the visitors, who had hooker Neil Briggs sent off.
Charlie Hodgson booted his side ahead with a penalty but Northampton hit back with a try from Lee Dickson which Stephen Myler converted.
Ashton then scampered over soon after and Briggs was shown a yellow card in the 18th minute, leading to a penalty try.
Sale hit back soon after when Marc Jones touched down and Hodgson converted the score before adding a penalty.
Northampton then lost number eight Roger Wilson to the sin-bin and Hodgson kicked a penalty before Saints prop Brian Mujati powered over the line and Myler converted.
Sale hit back after the break when Wame Lewaravu touched down but Briggs was sent off moments later and flanker Tom Wood soon went over for what became a seven-pointer.
Hodgson and Myler then traded penalties before Saints were awarded another penalty try.
Crowd favourite Bruce Reihana then weaved his way over for an unconverted try and there was still time for Northampton to cross the line again through forward Phil Dowson.
Tries: Dickson, Ashton, Penalty 2, Mujati, Wood, Reihana, Dowson
Con: Myler 5
Tries: Jones, Lewaravu
Pen: Hodgson 4
Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Paul Diggin, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (capt), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Phil Dowson, 21 Stuart Commins, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Bruce Reihana.
Sale: 15 Nick Macleod, 14 Ben Cohen, 13 Chris Bell, 12 Kyle Tonetti, 11 Mark Cueto (capt), 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Sisaro Koyamaibole, 7 David Seymour, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Wame Lewaravu, 4 Chris Jones, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Lee Imiolek.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Eifion Roberts, 18 Jack Forster, 19 Nic Rouse, 20 Neil McMillan, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Iain Thornley.
Referee: Martin Rose
Assistant referees: Stuart Terheege, Alan Hughes
Coach: Clive Leeke
Timekeeper: Brian Abrahams
Television match official: Graham Hughes