Aviva Premiership: Northampton Saints secure play-off place
Last Updated: 21/04/13 7:05am
Northampton centre Luther Burrell bursts through the Sale defence
Northampton crushed Sale Sharks 47-7 at Frankin's Gardens to claim a place in the Aviva Premiership semi-finals.
The bonus-point win leaves Saints six points clear of fifth-placed Gloucester with just one round of the regular season left to play.
Jamie Elliott and James Wilson scored a brace of tries each, with Luther Burrell, Lee Dickson and Tom Wood also going over as Saints ran in seven tries in all.
Stephen Myler gave Northampton a 3-0 lead after 12 minutes and he added a second two minutes later, before the tries started to flow.
Sale had picked one of the youngest front rows seen in the Premiership, with 21-year-old tight-head Henry Thomas the elder statesmen alongside hooker Tommy Taylor and Ross Harrison, but they were taking a battering in the scrum against Soane Tonga'uiha and Brian Mujati, who were playing their last games at Franklin's Gardens before moving to Racing Metro.
A scrum penalty sent Northampton on their way to the first try of the game, with Burrell, against his former club, breaking off a ruck in the 22 before Wood stepped through the heavily outnumbered Sale line to score.
The home side crossed again when Lee Dickson tapped a penalty on the 22 and went round David Seymour to dive into the corner. Myler's conversion went over off the post to leave Saints 20-0 in front.
Try number three came four minutes later when Burrell touched down. It was a sweet moment for the inside centre against the club he left last summer as he followed up Tom May's two kicks ahead to dive on the ball.
On 56 minutes Saints sealed their place in the Premiership play-offs when Elliott slipped down the left touchline to score from a turnover set up by great work from Courtney Lawes.
Elliott scored a second when a superb cross-field kick from Ryan Lamb bounced into his arms, allowing Martin Roberts to send Wilson over with a lovely flat pass.
Replacement centre Wilson scored a second thanks to a nice scissors move with Lamb, before Sale ended the game with a consolation try from James Gaskell, converted by Danny Cipriani.
Aviva Premiership 2012/13 Round 21
Exeter coach Rob Baxter praised his side after they closed on a place in the Heineken Cup by winning at Wasps.
Exeter closed on the sixth and final Heineken Cup spot for next season with a 37-24 bonus-point victory over Wasps.
Reaction from Soane Tonga'uiha and Brian Mujati after Northampton beat Sale Sharks 47-7 to claim a place in the Aviva Premiership semi-finals.
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- Gloucester v Saracens: Teams
- Wasps v Exeter: Teams
- L Irish v L Welsh: Teams
- Bath v Leicester: Teams
- Worcester v Quins: Teams
- Northampton v Sale: Teams