AFTER his first game in charge, Sale Sharks’ director of rugby John Mitchell said: “Northampton’s pack was outstanding in the first half. Their line-out drive was really effective and they scrummaged well, which meant that we had to live off crumbs and never built any pressure. In the second half, we showed a bit of character and a few times we managed an attacking platform.

“No-one said it was going to be easy and the forwards had a torrid time tonight,” Mitchell commented. “We are still very immature as a side and we get frustrated easily, so we’ve got to learn to be more patient.

“You can’t wake up after 40 minutes. You have to start from the start and their pack outplayed ours.

“In terms of avoiding relegation I’ve already said it’s not going to be easy and we’ve got a lot of work to do in the forward area.

“As for the conditions, it was a bit bizarre as we struggled to see what was going on at times but both Northampton and we were in total agreement that the game should go ahead.”