Heineken Cup Pool 1: Jim Mallinder piles the praise on Northampton's Courtney Lawes
Jim Mallinder singled out England's Courtney Lawes for praise following Saints' 27-16 Heineken Cup win over Ospreys.
Last Updated: 21/10/13 7:47am
The Aviva Premiership side needed the win to get their European campaign up and running and they did courtesy of three tries at Franklin's Gardens, leaving Ospreys winless from their opening two fixtures
Lawes was at his destructive best for the Saints, putting in numerous bone-crunching tackles and dominating restarts during an eye-catching performance just two weeks before England launch their autumn Tests campaign.
"Courtney was sensational, not just in his restarts, but his defence as well," explained Mallinder.
"He is consistently making big tackles, he consistently makes big carries and he is doing that for 80 minutes now, which is where I think he has moved on in the past few months.
"He was in and out of games a little bit in the past. Now he is the sort of complete player for the full game."
Mountain to climb
Wales fly-half Dan Biggar posted all the Ospreys' points from a try, conversion and three penalties, yet they now have a mountain to climb in Pool One, a group that also includes reigning French champions Castres, conquerors of Northampton eight days ago.
No team has ever reached the Heineken quarter-finals after losing their opening two group games, but that is the challenge now faced by the Ospreys.
"We were down 17-6 at half-time, and when we got back to 17-13 I really did think we were going to turn the corner. We were building momentum, but we conceded a sloppy try," Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy said.
"No-one has ever qualified from losing their first two games, but we will be preparing for Castres in December as if we are still involved. We need to pick up points and wins.
"In this tournament, it is unforgiving. If you don't take your opportunities or get the bounce of the ball, then it does get difficult. We had opportunities, but didn't quite take them.
"The squad showed their true character. At 17-6 down, we could quite easily have folded and let the tournament go, but it is a group that fights. When people put them down, they keep fighting."