Sale Sharks outfought Northampton to win a thrilling back and forth season opener with Northampton Saints at the AJ Bell.
AJ MacGinty got the first Premiership points on the board for the new Sharks season, with a penalty inside three minutes after an infringement at the ruck from Northampton. The Sharks soon got their first try of the night through Akker van der Merwe, after an inside pass from Ben Curry set the South African free to run over. MacGinty was good for the conversion, as Sale led 10-0 inside the opening 10 minutes.
Sale had the opportunity to add to their lead in the 13th minute, as Saints conceded a scrum penalty, however AJ’s subsequent kick steered just wide of the sticks. The home side were rampant with attacking intent during this period, as Akker van der Merwe battered through the Northampton defence to send fellow Springbok, Dan du Preez crashing over for the try. MacGinty was good for the follow up.
Northampton managed to get a try from a maul to reduce the early deficit to ten points, with Thomas Collins getting the ball down for the visitors and James Grayson adding the extras.
Saints began the second half on the hunt and got further points on the board through a James Grayson penalty, putting further pressure on the Sharks. The home side answered back in perfect fashion minutes later however, with Simon Hammersley continuing to enjoy his time on the wing for Sale by getting over. AJ missed the follow up from the edge.
Grayson scored another a penalty for the Saints in the 59th minute but in a mirror of the last score, Sale responded to the restart brilliantly, as AJ MacGinty worked his way through the Saints defence with a great dummy to score the try. The USA international converted his own try.
The back and forth style of the game continued as Piers Francis stepped his way over for the Saints and Grayson followed up with the kick. Saints won another penalty in the final ten minutes and Harry Malinder dispatched to bring the difference between the sides to six points.
As with the nature of the game, Saints conceded a penalty of their own and replacement, Rob du Preez slotted his kick between the sticks for the final points of the game.