Three superb second-half tries secured a comeback victory for the Sharks as they overcame an ill-disciplined Northampton Saints at Edgeley Park on Friday night.
Scores from Mark Easter, Dwayne Peel and David Seymour proved too much for a Saints side reduced to 13 men in the second-half, having lost back-row pairing Calum Clark and Phil Dowson to the sin bin.
The introduction of former All-Black centre Sam Tuitopou for his Sale debut gave his new side the advantage as his experience gave his teammates and the crowd a lift as Sharks notched their third win on the trot.
Steve Diamond’s men trailed at the interval and the clinical boot of former Salford Rugby League player Stephen Myler had looked to set the visitors on course for victory.
Myler claimed all 21 of his side’s points but a flurry of Sharks' scores in the final quarter moved the Stockport-based outfit to second place in the Aviva Premiership.
Superb play from the Sharks’ backline culminated in a 74th minute score from stand-in skipper Seymour, which proved to be the final nail in the coffin for former Sale coach Jim Mallinder’s men.
Northampton stormed ahead in the first half with Myler successfully converting three penalties to put the Saints nine to the good at the 20 minute mark.
Nick McLeod put the Sharks on the score board two minutes later but when Peel was sent to the bin ten minutes before the break, the pressure mounted for the home side.
Both sides exchanged penalties before the interval, which left Diamond’s men within touching distance as the Saints entered the tunnel 12-6 ahead.
Northampton started the second-half in strong fashion and Myler’s two penalties to McLeod’s one left the score as 9-18 after 55 minutes.
Club captain Tuitupou entered the frame and moments later, the game swung to Sale’s favour as No.8 Easter touched down in the left corner following a superb charge down by British and Irish Lion Peel.
McLeod failed to convert but moments later referee Tim Wigglesworth brandished yellow cards to Clark and Dowson in quick succession – both for kicking the ball away – reducing the away side to 13 with 20 minutes left on the clock.
A McLeod penalty brought the Sharks to within a point of the Saints lead and when Peel jinked his way through to touch down in the right corner, the home side moved ahead for the first time in the game.
Once more McLeod failed to convert and when Myler landed a 72nd minute penalty the home side enjoyed the narrowest of advantages as they led 29-21.
Any worries were short-lived however as Seymour rounded off the finest move of the game with an excellent try, which McLeod easily converted.
Director of rugby Diamond believes his side face the strongest team in the Premiership when they travel to play Harlequins at the Stoop next Saturday.
“We will have a good night, re-group and then go down to London on Saturday to face the best team in the Premiership- they look outstanding at the minute,” said Diamond.
Tries: Easter, Peel,Seymour
Pens: McLeod 4
Pens: Myler 7