Denny Solomona touched down twice as Sale Sharks moved off the bottom of the Gallagher Premiership table with a deserved 18-13 triumph over Northampton at the AJ Bell Stadium.
All the points in the first half came in the opening eight minutes, with Cobus Reinach touching down for the Saints and Solomona going over for Sale.
Rob du Preez’s conversion was all that separated the teams going into the second period before the fly-half added a penalty after the break.
Ollie Sleightholme’s try levelled matters but Solomona’s second score and another successful Du Preez effort off the tee proved to be enough for the Sharks to take the win.
Chris Boyd’s side produced their best performance of the season against Wasps last weekend and they showed some of those qualities in the opening score in Salford.
The Saints exposed the hosts in the wide channels, allowing Andrew Kellaway to get outside of James O’Connor. The centre eventually caught his Australian counterpart but Kellaway managed to find Taqele Naiyaravoro and the wing fed Reinach to finish.
It was an outstanding start for the Saints but they would relinquish the lead a few minutes later when Sale created their first attack of the game.
They pressurised the opposition line and, after Sam James had gone close, Faf de Klerk quickly pounced to send Solomona over from close range.
Mistakes then took over proceedings, with both sides struggling to find their fluency. The Sharks appeared the most incisive but it often broke down when they entered the Northampton 22.
Steve Diamond’s outfit were denied a try late in the half, however, when Jono Ross was penalised for crossing as their England wing waltzed through the visiting rearguard.
it remained 7-5 until the break in what was a frustrating contest. The intent was there but the execution was severely lacking and Sale initially had the same issue at the start of the second period, turning over ball when in a good position.
The pressure on the Saints eventually told, though, and Du Preez slotted a penalty after the away team had infringed five metres out.
Following that effort off the tee, Diamond’s charges continued to create chances but they were unable to benefit from their territorial dominance.
Instead, Northampton went through the phases for the first time in the half and Reinach brilliantly found Sleightholme, who had the simple task of touching down.
To Sale’s credit, they responded excellently and constructed a well-worked try which ended with De Klerk and James combining to send Solomona across the whitewash.
Diamond’s team were dominant and eventually sealed a hard-fought win via Du Preez’s three-pointer, although James Grayson did earn a losing bonus-point for the visitors.