North stars for Saints

Wales wing George North propelled Northampton to the summit of the Premiership with the pivotal try in their showdown with Harlequins.

North brought a dire match to life when he caught a poor clearance and raced along the touchline and into the left corner, bumping off a tackle from opposite number Charlie Walker in the process.

The score four minutes into the second half broke deadlock from 6-6, and Northampton never relinquished control as they replaced Saracens, who face Gloucester on Saturday, at the top of the table, with a 23-9 win.

Sale ended their dismal record at Kingston Park with an uncompromising 16-8 win over Newcastle.

With just one win in their last 20 visits to the north east, Sale scored a crucial first half try through winger Tom Brady with Danny Cipriani adding a conversion and penalty.

The former England player did not enjoy a great return after missing last week's game because of flu and he missed a second-half sitter before being replaced by Scott MacLeod who made sure of the win with a penalty seven minutes from time.

The win moves Sale up to top half of the table and well way from the relegation battle in which the Falcons renaming embroiled after failing to build on Andy Saull's try which came just six minutes after Brady's strike.