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Aviva Premiership: Anxious times for Northampton boss Jim Mallinder
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder concedes his side are now outsiders to reach the Aviva Premiership play-offs this season after defeat to rivals Gloucester.
The Saints suffered their third defeat in their last four league games at Franklin's Gardens as they lost 27-11 to Gloucester, who moved into the Premiership top four.
Northampton are now sixth in the table, three points behind Gloucester, and Mallinder admits they will struggle to reach the end-of-season play-offs if they cannot recover their confidence and form quickly.
He said: "We are certainly outsiders for the top four now, but we still have got a chance. Today was not good enough and if we play like that there is no chance of getting in the top four. Yet when we function we are a measure for anybody.
"Attacking-wise we were poor today and on the flipside we conceded two very soft tries, direct from a lineout and then turnover ball when we were in attack, that is quite demoralising.
"It is disappointing, we have got a good squad of players but we are playing without confidence at the moment."
Gloucester winger Jonny May scored two tries and director of rugby Nigel Davies felt he, along with back-rower Sione Kalamafoni, was crucial to their victory.
"Discipline was always going to be huge for us," said Davies. "We were very accurate in the contact area and defensively we were excellent. Having players like Jonny May makes a difference in a tight arm-wrestle of a game.
"We had to take something out of this game with our ambition to be a top four team. But we have to turn up like that every week, not every now and again.
"I thought our back row was excellent. Sione (Kalamafoni) was deservedly man of the match. His work rate was phenomenal, he gives us a different dimension."
Northampton lost Ben Foden in the build-up to the game, when after playing 10 games in a row after an operation on an ankle injury he was ruled out by the England medics.
Mallinder added: "We have got six of our pack missing and it is a disappointing to lose Ben Foden, but we don't use that as an excuse, it is about the squad and the other lads have got to step up.
"Ben is not that far off. He is not 100 percent, but we would have quite liked him to play - he is a key player for us.
"England and their medical staff advised that he didn't play this week. I am very hopeful he will be back next week. He has been training on lots of different surfaces in terms of the icy, snowy, wet conditions and that has probably not helped his comeback."Aviva Premiership. Click here to bet.
|Sunday 28th December|
|14:30||Gloucester vs Wasps|
|Friday 2nd January|
|19:45||Northampton vs Newcastle Falcons|
|Saturday 3rd January|
|14:00||Saracens vs London Irish|
|16:30||Exeter vs Gloucester|
|Sunday 4th January|
|14:00||Wasps vs Sale|
|14:00||Leicester Tigers vs Bath|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Harlequins|
|Friday 9th January|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Saracens|
|Saturday 10th January|
|14:00||Sale vs Northampton|
|15:00||Bath vs Wasps|
|15:15||Harlequins vs Leicester Tigers|
|Sunday 11th January|
|14:00||Newcastle Falcons vs London Welsh|
|15:00||London Irish vs Exeter|
|Saturday 14th February|
|15:00||Leicester vs Gloucester|
|15:00||Exeter vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Northampton vs London Irish|
|Sunday 15th February|
|14:00||Wasps vs Harlequins|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Sale|
|15:00||Saracens vs Bath|
|Friday 20th February|
|20:00||Newcastle vs Wasps|
|Saturday 21st February|
|14:00||Sale vs Saracens|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Exeter|
|15:00||London Irish vs Leicester|
|15:00||Bath vs Northampton|
|15:00||Gloucester vs London Welsh|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com