Northampton marched to the top of the Aviva Premiership table after a 19-10 win over Sale Sharks at Edgeley Park on Friday.
Teenage wing Jamie Elliott caused a stir on his Aviva Premiership on Friday as Northampton beat Sale 19-10 at Edgeley Park.
The 18-year-old scored his first league try five minutes from time having earlier produced a clever assist for Greig Tonks – the win also enabling Saints to go top of the table.
Sale certainly had desire and they also scored the only try of the first half thanks to a fine breakaway from former Northampton wing Ben Cohen.
But three penalties from Stephen Myler put Northampton 9-7 ahead at the break, with the contributions of Tonks and Elliott enough to give the visitors breathing space.
It was a fifth defeat in eight outings for the Sharks but the win was Northampton's seventh – and came minus England quartet Chris Ashton, Ben Foden, Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes.
They could have led inside the opening minute but Myler was off target with a long-range penalty attempt.
He converted from inside the hosts' 22 four minutes later but Sale responded and began to pin their opponents back towards their own line.
Some stout defending from Northampton kept them at bay and as the first half progressed, they began to look increasingly dangerous with ball in hand.
Chances remained scarce, though, until Sale scored against the run of play in the 25th minute after an error from Tom Wood.
The Northampton flanker gifted Sale possession just inside his own half and a swift pass out to Cohen allowed the former England wing to sprint down the right flank.
Nick Macleod converted from the touchline, but Sale soon found themselves on the back foot, repelling wave after wave of attacks to keep their line intact.
The efforts of their defence were exemplified by Iain Thornley – the 19-year-old debutant hauling down Tonks with a superb saving tackle.
Dwayne Peel also displayed commitment by charging down a kick, racing after the ball and then hauling a Northampton defender into touch.
Even so, two more penalties courtesy of Myler ensured Northampton held the advantage heading into the break.
He missed a penalty in the 47th minute but produced a delightful flighted kick eight minutes later into the right corner.
Elliott then showed real nous by catching the ball before ushering the supporting Tonks over from close range.
Myler could not convert and Macleod missed two penalties before succeeding with another attempt in the 70th minute to set up a grandstand finish.
However, Elliott found space to burrow his way over in the right corner in the 75th minute – Myler albeit missing the conversion.
For Sale Sharks:
For Northampton Saints:
Tries: Tonks, Elliot
Pens: Myler 3
Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Ben Cohen, 13 Iain Thornley , 12 Anitelea Tuilagi, 11 Chris Bell, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Asaeli Boko, 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Kristian Ormsby, 5 Sean Cox, 4 Nic Rouse, 3 Karena Wihongi, 2 Neil Briggs (captain), 1 Aston Croall.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Lee Imiolek , 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Chris Jones, 20 Neil McMillan, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Mathew Tait, 23 Matty James.
Northampton Saints: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Paul Diggin, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Ryan Powell, 8 Phil Dowson (captain), 7 Tom Wood, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Mark Sorenson, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Brett Sharman, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Andy Long, 17 Regardt Dreyer, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Mark Easter, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Stuart Commins, 22 Shane Geraghty, 23 Bruce Reihana.
Referee: JP Doyle