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Aviva Premiership: Northampton inspired by Wigan heroics

Last updated: 13th May 2013   Subscribe to RSS Feed

Aviva Premiership: Northampton inspired by Wigan heroics

Northampton celebrate their victory over Saracens

We hadn't beaten a top three team and they clearly were the favourites today. But the favourites don't always win. I had a number of people reminding me of that after the Wigan-Manchester City game yesterday.

Jim Mallinder
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Northampton stunned Saracens 27-13 to reach their first Aviva Premiership final after being inspired by Wigan's FA Cup heroics - and memories of their Heineken Cup nightmare.

Wigan overturned the odds to beat Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday and Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder took that as proof that anything was possible for his underdog side at Allianz Park.

Northampton, who had finished 12 points behind table-toppers Saracens in the regular season, raced into a 17-0 half-time lead with tries from Brian Mujati and Jamie Elliott.

But no-one in the Saints changing room was complacent at the interval because, only two years ago, Northampton led Leinster 22-6 in the Heineken Cup final and went on to lose 33-22.

Owen Farrell kicked two penalties to keep alive any faint hopes of a Saracens comeback - but they were quashed when GJ Van Velze scored Northampton's third try just before the hour.

Saracens did engineer a consolation try from Duncan Taylor when Elliot was in the sin-bin but it was the Saints who marched on to Twickenham.

Asked about the inspiration he drew from Wigan's FA Cup win, Mallinder said: "They (Saracens) finished first and we were fourth. They were unbeaten here and we hadn't beaten them all season.

"We hadn't beaten a top three team and they clearly were the favourites today.

"But the favourites don't always win. I had a number of people reminding me of that after the Wigan-Manchester City game yesterday.

Criticism

"We have had an up and down season. We have come in for a great deal of criticism along the way, a lot of that quite rightly.

"We have not beaten a top three team all season. We have known that. We have been reminded so many times.

"The players have responded. They have known they are good enough."

Mallinder decided not to mention the Heineken Cup final misery at half-time but he was thinking it, and so were the players. Tom Wood revealed it had been a key second-half motivator.

"We talked about that at half-time, that 'we have been in this position before and let it slip so it was a huge motivation and it was on our minds," Wood said.

"We knew the next score was going to be crucial. We knew there would be a reaction and we did let them into the game a little bit.

"But we dug in. We were under enormous pressure on our line at times, our lineout defence was good, our maul defence was good and we hung in there."

Forthcoming Aviva Premiership Fixtures
TimeFixture
Aviva Premiership
Friday 5th September
Aviva Premiership
19:45Northampton vs Gloucester
Saturday 6th September
14:00Sale vs Bath
14:00Saracens vs Wasps
15:00Leicester vs Newcastle
16:30London Irish vs Harlequins
Sunday 7th September
14:00London Welsh vs Exeter
Friday 12th September
19:45Harlequins vs Saracens
Saturday 13th September
15:00Gloucester vs Sale
15:00Bath vs London Welsh
15:15Exeter vs Leicester
Sunday 14th September
14:00Wasps vs Northampton
15:00Newcastle vs London Irish
Friday 19th September
19:45Gloucester vs Exeter
Saturday 20th September
14:00Sale vs London Welsh
15:00Harlequins vs Wasps
15:00London Irish vs Saracens
15:15Bath vs Leicester
Sunday 21st September
14:00Newcastle vs Northampton
Friday 26th September
19:45London Welsh vs Gloucester
Saturday 27th September
15:00Leicester vs London Irish
15:00Saracens vs Sale
15:15Northampton vs Bath
Sunday 28th September
14:00Wasps vs Newcastle
14:00Exeter vs Harlequins
Friday 3rd October
19:45Bath vs Saracens

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Phil Edwards

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