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Jim Mallinder relieved after Northampton Saints keep Heineken Cup hopes alive
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."Heineken Cup. Click here to bet.
|European Rugby Champions Cup|
|Sunday 25th January|
|European Rugby Champions Cup|
|Munster 65 - 10 Sale Sharks|
|Clermont Auvergne 18 - 6 Saracens|
|Bath 20 - 15 Glasgow|
|Montpellier 27 - 26 Toulouse|
|Saturday 24th January|
|Scarlets 3 - 26 Toulon|
|Ulster 26 - 7 Leicester|
|Northampton 8 - 32 Racing Metro 92|
|Benetton Treviso 23 - 20 Ospreys|
|Castres 19 - 47 Harlequins|
|Wasps 20 - 20 Leinster|
|Sunday 18th January|
|Ospreys 9 - 20 Northampton|
|Racing Metro 92 53 - 7 Benetton Treviso|
|Toulouse 18 - 35 Bath|
|Glasgow 21 - 10 Montpellier|
|Saturday 17th January|
|Harlequins 3 - 23 Wasps|
|Sale Sharks 13 - 22 Clermont Auvergne|
|Leinster 50 - 8 Castres|
|Toulon 60 - 22 Ulster|
|Saracens 33 - 10 Munster|
|Friday 16th January|
|Leicester 40 - 23 Scarlets|
|Sunday 14th December|
|Scarlets 22 - 13 Ulster|
|Clermont Auvergne 26 - 19 Munster|
|Wasps 44 - 17 Castres|
|Saturday 13th December|
|Leinster 14 - 13 Harlequins|
|Saracens 28 - 15 Sale Sharks|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com