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Saints - Power in the pack

Northampton rugby director delighted with display of his forwards

Last updated: 12th April 2009   Subscribe to RSS Feed

Saints - Power in the pack

Mallinder: Rising to the challenge

It was a little bit of a late show again, but you've got to keep patience and keep working and trust your game plan and the fitness of the players and we did that and came through in the end.

Jim Mallinder
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Jim Mallinder picked out the pack for special praise after Northampton steam-rollered their way into the European Challenge Cup semi-finals on Saturday.

Saints ran in four tries in a hectic last 11 minutes, but the 42-13 victory against Connacht was founded on forward dominance led by the front row of Scottish international prop Euan Murray, England hooker Dylan Hartley and Tongan Soane Tonga'uiha

Northampton will now entertain the winners of the Sunday quarter-final between Saracens and Newcastle on the first weekend in May and rugby director Mallinder was elated to progress.


"Our scrum was huge," said Mallinder. "Euan Murray, in particular, is playing well. His game has improved massively this year, not just his scrum which is very good.

"He was carrying today, his defence is very good, he very rarely misses tackles and he has improved his all-round game immensely.

"Dylan and Soane are also really enjoying their scrummaging at the moment. When you can put teams under pressure like that and pick up penalties from your scrum it is fantastic for field position and we are really pleased with that aspect.

"It was a little bit of a late show again, but you've got to keep patience and keep working and trust your game plan and the fitness of the players and we did that and came through in the end."


Three Connacht players were yellow-carded in the match and one of the offenders Jonny O'Connor admitted afterwards the numerical disadvantage proved the decisive in defeat.

"Discipline let us down," O'Connor said. "It was disappointing. We let ourselves down because, definitely, that's a game we could have won.

"We played some good rugby at times and in the first-half a lot of the play was down in their half but unfortunately we didn't go the distance.

"Some of the decisions were quite harsh. My own, I was trying to get out of the way. I did clip things so I suppose it's a penalty but it wasn't intentional. It was just unfortunate.

"I think Gavin Duffy's was just a knock-on effect from already only having 14 men on the pitch - the pressure of going backwards left him exposed."

Forthcoming European Rugby Challenge Cup Fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday 4th December
European Rugby Challenge Cup
19:45La Rochelle vs Exeter
Friday 5th December
18:30Grenoble vs Rovigo
18:30Brive vs Oyonnax
20:00Newcastle vs Stade Francais
Saturday 6th December
TBCBucuresti vs Newport Gwent D'gons
15:15Cardiff Blues vs London Irish
17:00Connacht vs Bayonne
19:45Bordeaux-Begles vs LOU Rugby
Sunday 7th December
14:00Edinburgh vs London Welsh
15:15Gloucester vs Zebre
Thursday 11th December
19:45Stade Francais vs Newcastle
Friday 12th December
18:30LOU Rugby vs Bordeaux-Begles
19:30Newport Gwent D'gons vs Bucuresti
Saturday 13th December
14:00Oyonnax vs Brive
14:00Rovigo vs Grenoble
15:00London Irish vs Cardiff Blues
15:00Zebre vs Gloucester
15:00Exeter vs La Rochelle
19:45Bayonne vs Connacht
Sunday 14th December
14:30London Welsh vs Edinburgh
Saturday 17th January
TBCLOU Rugby vs Edinburgh
TBCConnacht vs Exeter
TBCNewcastle vs Newport Gwent D'gons
TBCZebre vs Brive
TBCGloucester vs Oyonnax

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Phil Edwards

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