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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|
|Thursday 16th October|
|European Rugby Challenge Cup|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Brive|
|Friday 17th October|
|19:00||Bordeaux-Begles vs Edinburgh|
|Saturday 18th October|
|13:00||LOU Rugby vs London Welsh|
|14:30||Cardiff Blues vs Grenoble|
|15:00||Zebre vs Oyonnax|
|17:00||Connacht vs La Rochelle|
|19:00||Bayonne vs Exeter|
|19:45||Stade Francais vs Newport Gwent D'gons|
|Thursday 23rd October|
|19:45||London Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles|
|Friday 24th October|
|18:30||Grenoble vs London Irish|
|18:30||La Rochelle vs Bayonne|
|19:30||Brive vs Zebre|
|19:30||Newport Gwent D'gons vs Newcastle|
|19:45||Edinburgh vs LOU Rugby|
|Saturday 25th October|
|15:00||Exeter vs Connacht|
|19:45||Oyonnax vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 6th December|
|TBC||Cardiff Blues vs London Irish|
|TBC||Edinburgh vs London Welsh|
|TBC||Bordeaux-Begles vs LOU Rugby|
|TBC||Gloucester vs Zebre|
|TBC||Brive vs Oyonnax|
|TBC||Newcastle vs Stade Francais|
|TBC||Connacht vs Bayonne|
|TBC||La Rochelle vs Exeter|
|Saturday 13th December|
|TBC||London Irish vs Cardiff Blues|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com