SALE director of rugby Alex Sanderson admitted his Sharks side were fortunate to win 22-21 at Northampton Saints but was delighted to get the victory despite not reaching the same heights as previous weeks.

The visitors raced into a 10-0 lead when Arron Reed ran a try in from the half-way line after AJ MacGinty’s penalty, but through Juarno Augustus Saints hit back quickly with a try of their own.

At half time Sale led 15-14 with Sam James scoring for the visitors, before Alex Coles scored just before the break.

Saints took the lead for the first time through Alex Mitchell just after half-time, but Rohan Janse van Rensburg’s try and AJ MacGinty’s conversion put Sale into the match-winning 22-21 lead.

Then George Furbank’s kick at the death for the hosts sailed wide and there was agony for the home side and ecstasy for the away side.

Sanderson said: “That was a game we probably should have lost.

“You can only play as well as the opposition allow you to and that was probably our worst performance in four or five weeks.

“But the old cliche stands that if you can play badly and win, you’re in a good place, so we’re in a good place.

“Sometimes I hate starts like we had because I could feel the lads felt it was easy and then they just relaxed from the kick-off.

“They got a try and then we were only three points ahead so that made it not such a good start.

“The first five minutes couldn’t have gone any better for us, we work a lot on our kicking game, and we work hard on judging it so it’s not luck - it’s training and hard work that paid off in some of those high balls.”

Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd rued missed opportunities.

He said: “We dominated for long periods of time and were pretty good in terms of performance, but at the end of the day, all of those things that we did better than in the previous few weeks didn’t translate to a win.

“We didn’t convert our pressure into points.”