Northampton closed the gap on the top two in the Aviva Premiership thanks to a 24-17 victory over Sale at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
Northampton closed the gap on the top two sides in the Aviva Premiership thanks to a 24-17 victory over Sale Sharks at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
Fly-half Stephen Myler landed seven of his eight attempts at goal in a match where Sale were heavily penalised by referee Greg Garner.
The Sharks also lost Andrew Sheridan and Sam Tuitupou to the sin-bin and were made to play catch up rugby for the whole of the game.
Both sides valiantly attempted to play rugby despite the wet conditions but defences remained on top throughout the first half with the majority of play taking place between the 22s.
Myler struck four penalties to one from Nick Macleod to hand Saints a 12-3 interval lead, the last three-pointer coming right on half-time after Sheridan was shown yellow for not rolling away.
Macleod and Myler traded penalties at the start of the second half before Mark Cueto, edging ever closer to Steve Hanley's all-time Premiership record, crossed for the game's only try.
Rob Miller and Johnny Leota were heavily involved in the attack that led to Cueto going over on the left for his 73rd Premiership try – leaving him just two short of his fellow Cumbrian.
Sale looked to be heading home empty-handed when, with two minutes remaining, a defensive line-out throw went astray and Saints number eight Roger Wilson pounced on the loose ball to set up the ruck which led to a Ryan Lamb drop goal.
But Sale left the Gardens with something to show for their efforts thanks to Macleod who nervelessly slotted home his fourth penalty from 40 metres with the clock ticking down.
Pen: Myler 7
Pen: Macleod 4
Northampton Saints: 15 Paul Diggin, 14 Vasily Artemyev, 13 George Pisi, 12 James Downey, 11 Noah Cato, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Martin Roberts, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Mike Haywood, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Andy Long, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran-Jones, 19 MarkSorenson, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Ryan Glynn, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.
Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou (c), 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Dwayne Peel, 8 Andy Powell,7 David Seymour,6 Richie Vernon, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Andrei Ostrikov,3 Tony Buckley, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Joe Ward, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Mark Easter, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Will Addison, 23 Luther Burrell.
Referee: Greg Garner