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  • Aviva Premiership
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Mallinder - We have momentum

Saints boss pleased with pick-up in form ahead of play-offs

Last updated: 5th May 2012   Subscribe to RSS Feed

 Richard Hill Worcester Warriors head coach

Richard Hill: Thought the sin-binning of skipper Shaun Perry turned the match

Jim Mallinder Northampton

Jim Mallinder: Says Saints will head to Quins and quietly give it a go

We'll go in there and will quietly give it a go. There's a bit of a momentum.

Jim Mallinder
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Jim Mallinder believes Northampton have momentum going into their Aviva Premiership semi-final clash at Harlequins.

Saints ran in five tries in their 42-14 home victory over Worcester to clinch the final play-off place.

While acknowledging their visit to Harlequins next Saturday will be tough, Mallinder believes his side have nothing to fear.

The Saints director of rugby said: "We are learning all the time and this is our third play-off in consecutive years.

"Harlequins will quite rightly be confident about next week because they have been the most consistent team in the league. They have won the most games by a large margin so they deserve it.

"But we'll go in there and will quietly give it a go. There's a bit of a momentum. Look three games back and we were struggling a little bit but we went down to Bath and won well there.

"We got well beaten but had the must-win game down at Exeter and when we needed to we played well.

"We need to play well next week because Harlequins are a quality side and they are playing with confidence but when we play at our best we are a good team."

International calls

Saints have been hit by England international calls, injuries and suspensions during the season and Mallinder said: "You never want to lose some of your best players but that happens. But it's given opportunities to some other players."

Flanker James Craig, one of those to benefit, turned in an outstanding performance after figuring in Chris Ashton's opening try.

Mallinder said: "James Craig is a really good example of somebody whose come in, stepped up and got better every time. Today he was outstanding.

"Some of the younger lads coming off the bench are learning all the time."

England winger Ashton produced his trademark swallow dive celebration as he opened the scoring in the fifth minute of his final Franklin's Gardens match before moving to Saracens in the summer, but came off injured 14 minutes later.

Mallinder denied that he had suffered the injury making his flamboyant touchdown.

"We all thought that at the time but I don't think he did it then," he said. "He's got a bit of a bad back and he's been struggling with that. Fingers crossed, he'll be all right for next week."

Turned match

Worcester rugby director Richard Hill believes that the 37th-minute sin-binning of skipper Shaun Perry turned the match against his side.

"It was a rush blood to the head by Shaun that cost us," said Hill, who had no complaints about the decision after the Warriors skipper put his hands in the ruck in front of his own posts.

Hill said: "We looked good until we had the sin-bin. We came back with our second try and they were rattled, no doubt about that. The last 20 minutes we were chasing shadows."

But Hill added: "There were signs of the rugby we would like to play next year. There were a lot of young players out there who performed really well."

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