George Furbank misses match winning kick as Sale beat Northampton
Furbank opted to take a shot at goal with the clock having hit 80, but his tricky attempt from close to the right touchline drifted just wide of the right post.
Northampton could have gone for the corner in a bid to bag a bonus-point win, but Furbank took the kick on and he couldn’t make it, sparking Sale celebrations.
Rohan Janse van Rensburg ultimately provided the telling contribution for the Sharks as he picked up a loose ball and charged in for what proved to be a vital try 20 minutes from time.
AJ MacGinty added the conversion to put Sale a point up and they then put up the barricades under plenty of pressure late on to secure the win.
It was Sale’s fourth successive Premiership success and they are now on the coattails of the top four.
Northampton had gone into the game a point ahead of the Sharks in the league standings, but their play-off hopes have taken a hit following back-to-back defeats.
MacGinty had put Sale ahead inside the opening three minutes, slotting a penalty won at the very first scrum of the game.
Northampton were soon further behind as Rory Hutchinson, playing at full-back rather than his usual role at centre, was beaten to the ball in the air by Arron Reed, who sprinted in from close to halfway.
MacGinty added the extras, but Sale were hit by an immediate riposte from Saints as the home pack helped Juarno Augustus go over from a lineout drive.
Furbank converted well and the gap was back to three points.
But Sale soon hit back, using a five-metre scrum to set up a move that eventually ended with the ball being flicked into the path of Sam James, who scored.
MacGinty missed the conversion to leave the gap at eight points before referee Tom Foley was forced off with an injury, bringing Matthew Carley into the action.
Coles powered over after a lengthy spell of Saints pressure and Furbank converted to cut the gap to a single point.
Sale had a chance to get their breathing space back just before the break, but the Saints repelled their surge and ensured the game remained very much in the balance.
Furbank converted and the Saints had the lead for the first time in the game.
But Northampton were struggling to keep hold of the ball in the opposition half and Sale made them pay.
James put up a high ball that the hosts couldn’t gather and the ball bounced to Van Rensburg, who charged in for the score.
MacGinty converted to put the Sharks a point up, but Northampton kept going right until the end, winning a penalty that gave them hope of a dramatic win.
But Furbank couldn’t quite make it as the wind whistled around, ensuring Sale would complete the league double over Saints.
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