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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.
Aviva Premiership Table
|Friday 5th September|
|19:45||Northampton vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 6th September|
|14:00||Sale vs Bath|
|14:00||Saracens vs Wasps|
|15:00||Leicester vs Newcastle|
|16:30||London Irish vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 7th September|
|14:00||London Welsh vs Exeter|
|Friday 12th September|
|19:45||Harlequins vs Saracens|
|Saturday 13th September|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Sale|
|15:00||Bath vs London Welsh|
|15:15||Exeter vs Leicester|
|Sunday 14th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Northampton|
|15:00||Newcastle vs London Irish|
|Friday 19th September|
|19:45||Gloucester vs Exeter|
|Saturday 20th September|
|14:00||Sale vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Saracens|
|15:15||Bath vs Leicester|
|Sunday 21st September|
|14:00||Newcastle vs Northampton|
|Friday 26th September|
|19:45||London Welsh vs Gloucester|
|Saturday 27th September|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Irish|
|15:00||Saracens vs Sale|
|15:15||Northampton vs Bath|
|Sunday 28th September|
|14:00||Wasps vs Newcastle|
|14:00||Exeter vs Harlequins|
|Friday 3rd October|
|19:45||Bath vs Saracens|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com