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Saints - Power in the pack
Northampton rugby director delighted with display of his forwards
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.
Quotes of the week
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."
|European Rugby Challenge Cup|
|Sunday 25th January|
|European Rugby Challenge Cup|
|London Welsh 12 - 17 Lyon Olympique|
|Saturday 24th January|
|Exeter 45 - 3 Bayonne|
|La Rochelle 20 - 30 Connacht|
|Newport Gwent D'gons 30 - 19 Stade Francais|
|Bucuresti 10 - 52 Newcastle|
|Grenoble 3 - 28 Cardiff Blues|
|Rovigo 6 - 34 London Irish|
|Friday 23rd January|
|Edinburgh 38 - 20 Bordeaux-Begles|
|Thursday 22nd January|
|Brive 20 - 31 Gloucester|
|Oyonnax 20 - 3 Zebre|
|Sunday 18th January|
|Connacht 24 - 33 Exeter|
|Saturday 17th January|
|Lyon Olympique 21 - 19 Edinburgh|
|Bayonne 14 - 0 La Rochelle|
|Newcastle 29 - 40 Newport Gwent D'gons|
|London Irish 43 - 41 Grenoble|
|Zebre 23 - 13 Brive|
|Gloucester 33 - 3 Oyonnax|
|Stade Francais 47 - 12 Bucuresti|
|Friday 16th January|
|Bordeaux-Begles 26 - 3 London Welsh|
|Cardiff Blues 104 - 12 Rovigo|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com