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Jim Mallinder relieved after Northampton Saints keep Heineken Cup hopes alive

Last updated: 12th January 2013  

Jim Mallinder relieved after Northampton Saints keep Heineken Cup hopes alive

A night of mixed emotions for Jim Mallinder

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Director of rugby Jim Mallinder expressed his relief after Northampton Saints kept their Heineken Cup hopes alive with a hard-earned 18-12 win over Castres.

It was a nervy display with both sides level at the interval, but three Ryan Lamb penalties saw them home, although they failed to earn a bonus point which could be their downfall in Pool Four.

"It was a difficult game. Castres are a good side and we struggled to break them down," Mallinder said. "We probably deserved to win but we did have a few opportunities when we should have been more accurate.

"We will look at the period they were down to 14 men which was a good opportunity for us to score some tries. We spoke about getting ahead and scoring a try and Castres maybe giving up but we never got to that.

"They were always within that seven points and we need to be more accurate. At the end of it we will take the win and go up to Glasgow still in the competition."

Courtney Lawes was named man of the match for an eye-catching return to form, timed perfectly for the climax of the Heineken Cup group stages and for the RBS 6 Nations.

"He made a slow return to play after his injury and he is getting back to the Courtney we love," Mallinder added.

"When he is at his best, Courtney is a very good footballer. He is a massive asset in the lineout and around the field as a ball-carrier and a destructive tackler. He can intimidate."

Skipper Dylan Hartley said: "It shows we have a good character. It was a good all-round performance. We wanted to score four tries and take five points but they are a good team and to close out a game as close as that was quite professional.

"Recently we haven't closed out those games. Going into next week, we have to get five points to keep hopes alive. We are doing all right away from home. The spirit is good in the camp.

"All we can do is worry about winning and hopefully the tries will come with that."

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European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday 5th December
European Rugby Champions Cup
19:45Montpellier vs Bath
Saturday 6th December
13:00Sale vs Saracens
17:30Munster vs Clermont Auvergne
19:45Ulster vs Scarlets
13:00Benetton Treviso vs Northampton
15:15Ospreys vs Racing Metro 92
Sunday 7th December
13:00Castres vs Wasps
15:15Harlequins vs Leinster
17:30Leicester vs Toulon
15:15Toulouse vs Glasgow
Friday 12th December
19:45Bath vs Montpellier
Saturday 13th December
17:15Saracens vs Sale
19:45Leinster vs Harlequins
15:15Toulon vs Leicester
13:00Glasgow vs Toulouse
15:15Northampton vs Benetton Treviso
17:15Racing Metro 92 vs Ospreys
Sunday 14th December
15:15Clermont Auvergne vs Munster
13:00Wasps vs Castres
17:15Scarlets vs Ulster
Saturday 17th January
TBCSaracens vs Munster
TBCSale vs Clermont Auvergne
TBCHarlequins vs Wasps
TBCLeinster vs Castres
TBCLeicester vs Scarlets

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Phil Edwards

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