Rugby Union: Sale pay price for saga of sin

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Northampton 37 Sale 17

NO PIECE of legislation introduced by the Rugby Football Union has, in recent times anyway, brought with it the propensity for confusion and frustration as the sin-bin. It completely ruined this mess of a match at Franklin's Gardens, where Northampton had to win to prove something after another disappointing start to a season, and Sale needed to confirm they are capable of challenging for the title.

Ultimately both fell short of achieving their objectives, in a game which promised so much, but fell way short of expectations for the supporters of either team. The neutrals in a crowd of 6,464 must have felt they received very poor value for money.

John Mitchell, the Sale coach, was in a fury at the sin-binning of Tom Beim in the first half, and Pat Sanderson immediately after the restart. "I intend to take this matter up with the refereeing hierarchy," railed Mitchell. "I don't know what they were for, but I do know it cost us the game." Having three players white-carded against Saracens two weeks ago, Mitchell should be aware of the consequences.

Until Beim was dismissed for killing the ball, Northampton had hardly threatened Sale, except at the scrum. Once Beim had departed, David Dantiacq scored by the posts, Paul Grayson converted to add to an earlier penalty, and Sale were left to rue Beim's folly. But they pulled themselves together, Jan Machacek scored a superb try which Shane Howarth converted; then came the second whammy.

Sanderson's offence was to play the ball on the floor from an offside position. While he was off, Saints scored a pushover try, but Sale, as Howarth converted his own try, and then kicked a penalty hauled back to 20-17. But the Sale scrum was by now creaking badly, and Mitchell left it too late to put his replacements on, enabling Craig Moir and Matt Allen to profit from Sale's tiredness with late tries.

Northampton: Tries Dantiacq; penalty try, Moir, Allen; Conversions Grayson 4; Penalties Grayson 3. Sale: Tries Howarth, Machacek; Conversions Howarth 2; Penalty Howarth.

Northampton: N Beal; O Moir, P Dantiacq, M Allen, B Cohen; P Grayson, M Dawson (capt); G Pagel, F Mendez(C Johnson, 61), M Hynes (M Volland, 77) T Rodber (capt; G Seely 75), R Metcalfe (J Phillips, 61), D Mackinnon, B Pountney, P Lam.

Sale: S Davidson; B-J Mather, S Howarth (capt), J Devereux (C Yates, 72), T Beim; J Baxendell, R Smith (K Ellis, 67); P Winstanley (D Williamson 75), S Diamond, A Smith, (D Bell, 67) S Raiwalui, C Murphy, P Angelsea, P Sanderson, J Machacek.

Referee: S Lander (Irby, Wirral).